The importance of leadership skills was recognized by several of the teens present.
“It taught me leadership and communication skills and helped broaden my experiences with other people,” said Sierra Laltrello. “I feel it will help me make wise choices in the future.
She said this would include her pursuit of a college education and career. She hopes to become a meteorologist since she has always been interested in science and the weather.
“I would not mind being on television,” she said. “There is so much that you can do to warn about an approaching storm and help prevent a weather-related disaster.”
Harrison Barnett said the experience has changed his perception of being a leader. “It has taught me many ways to be a leader and I will definitely use this knowledge in the future,” he said.
Tyler Young, who hopes to become a pharmacist, was also impressed with the program. “I have enjoyed everything and it has taught me a lot,” he said.
His father Kevin Young said the Polk Youth Leadership program is an excellent opportunity for young people to meet the leaders in the community.
Jordan Hubbard, a Polk Youth Leadership and Cedartown High School graduate, introduced state Representative Trey Kelley.
Kelley’s speech focused on how leadership is an individual choice and that people can reach goals by taking different paths in life.
He shared his experiences and recalled how an elementary school teacher helped him understand the importance of learning the names of his classmates.
“This broadened my circle of friends,” he said. “I still see some of them.”
Kelley also encouraged the youth to find a job, which he said could provide a great addition to a resume when seeking admission to a preferred college.
He pointed out that history proves great leaders are the people who were not afraid to try and fail, were ready to meet challenges and never let age be a hindrance.
“We need youth for the future,” he said. “Be fearless and bold and take advantage of the opportunity to improve yourself.”
He advised the teens to use resources provided through today’s unlimited technology, which was not available to past leaders.
“You can shape history during your lifetime,” he said. “Use the skills you have learned to build a foundation and move forward with a determination to achieve.”
Participating in the 2013 Polk Youth Leadership Program were:
Hannah Aaron, Harrison Barnett, Juan Harrison, Juan Bautista, Sydney Blackmon, Madi-son Blazer, Payton Cox, Cassidy Davis, Chris Hernandez, Joy Leigh Owens, Leo Rodriguez, Monieka Sewell, Savannah Shaw, Ron Stephens III, Ben Truett and Tyler Young, all of Cedartown.
Rebecca Argo, Pyung On “Grace” Choi, Nick Forsyth, Olivia Gober, Kristin Goss, Jayden Heck, Sierra Laltrello, Rafael León, Maggie Lumpkin, Shelby McNeil, Triston Montgomery, Ansley Rainey, James Smith, Morgan Thompson and Michaela Wolf, all of Rockmart.