Out with the old, in with the new

First Posted: 12/1/2009

Tuesday was a night for final farewells and new beginnings for Youth Leadership Surry.
The 2009 YLS group started last spring and has completed six programs where the group members learned more about the communities in Surry County as well as the many groups and organizations that work to keep the county running. Tuesday night was a finale for that group, allowing them to come together to recap their experiences.
The youth spent a day learning about history and tourism at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History and took a tour of the citys many features. They spent a day in Pilot Mountain, learning about parks and recreation through tours of the Armfield Center and a hike around the knob of Pilot Mountain. They learned about non-profits and the role they play in making sure services are provided for those who need them. At Camp Raven Knob, the students learned about leadership and team building. It was here that they also began to bond as a group even though they were from different schools.
In Elkin the students learned about the town and about health services by taking tours of Hugh-Chatham Memorial Hospital and an area nursing home. In Dobson the students learned about crime and justice through tours of the prison and the courthouse and with the help of a forensics team at Surry Community College that set up a mock crime scene.
It also was a night to welcome the 2010 group. The newest 30 students got to hear about YLS from their peers and had the chance to ask questions about their experiences. The outgoing group members, all of whom are high school seniors, had the chance to offer some advice to the incoming juniors. From making sure they sit on the unbreakable bench in front of the general store in Elkin to being aware of the fact that Facebook and MySpace, while useful, can come back to haunt, some of the advice was practical, some was comical, but all intended to ensure the newest students are able to get the most from the experience.
The 30 students entering, five each from East Surry High, Elkin High, Mount Airy High, North Surry High, Surry Central High and Surry Early College, were unsure of what to expect walking in the door. They were selected through an application process at each school.
Im here to figure out what I have to do, said Carly Pippin, a junior at Elkin High. My teacher talked to me about it and it sounded like fun.
Im kind of curious about it. Id heard about it from some of the other students. Im looking forward to enhancing my leadership qualities, said Katie Bowman, a junior at Mount Airy High.
However, after the presentations and the question and answer session, they seemed excited to get started with the first event which will probably take place in February.
Im really looking forward to it, said Jillian Epperson, a junior at Mount Airy High School.
I heard you learn a lot about the history of Mount Airy. Since Ive lived here all my life Id like to learn more, said Whitlee Angel, a junior at North Surry.
I heard the field trips and stuff are lots of fun. Everyone I talked to has really liked the program, said Emily Pruitt, a junior at North Surry.
During a question and answer session, parents of incoming students had the chance to learn more about the program that, through the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, offers high school students the chance to enhance their leadership skills while learning more about the community in which they live. One parent asked what the education support committee, which works to plan the events as well as taking part in many other educational functions, hopes the students take away from the experience.
Obviously its about team-building and leadership, but its also about pride in their community, said Betty Ann Collins, chair of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce. Were all alike, it doesnt matter where you come from. Its about having a sense of pride in your home town.
Through this experience, the students are interested in being more involved in their communities and are more aware of everything Surry County has to offer. One student even asked if they could return for the programs in the upcoming year, causing many students to wonder the same thing.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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