Elba youth leadership

The first Elba Youth Leadership Program class was announced this week for Elba High School. This new leadership program is sponsored by the Elba Chamber of Commerce. Members of the inaugural EYLP class are: (front, l to r): Kali Nicholson, Tyandrea Tillis, May Morgan Lusk, Callie Pope, Jayla Gray, and Tamiah Tillis; (back, l to r) Whit Shehee, Paxton Wise, Carson Wise, and Collin Sauls.

The Elba Chamber of Commerce started a new venture this school year by sponsoring a Youth Leadership Class for Elba students.

The first Elba Youth Leadership Program [EYLP] class was announced earlier this week from seniors at Elba High School. The seniors selected to be a part of this inaugural group were: Jayla Gray, May Morgan Lusk, Kali Nicholson, Callie Pope, Collin Sauls, Whit Shehee, Tamiah Tillis, Tyandrea Tillis, Carson Wise, and Paxton Wise.

The EYLP is a six-month leadership program for high school seniors who attend Elba High School. The program centers on civic involvement, leadership skills, and volunteer opportunities.

“I am honored to be serving as board chairman for the Elba Chamber in conjunction with our first ever EYLP class,” said Denise Sauls. “COVID has taken so many opportunities from our youth, and this is a way for our chamber to give back.”  

According to Sandy Bynum Williams, director of the Elba Chamber of Commerce, the students were chosen based on a combination of the strength of application, recommendations from teachers and school administrators, academic performance, and extracurricular resume. 

“EYLP develops young leaders through structured monthly educational programs and teambuilding activities,” Williams said. “Participants will gain genuine exposure to local initiatives and community and civic leaders, while also allowing the chamber to engage with youth providing a strong voice and active role in planning the chamber’s success.” Meetings, led by local leaders, include subjects such as leadership principles and practices, ethics in society, law and justice, and community involvement. The program will culminate with a trip to Montgomery to view the Alabama Legislature in session and meet with state leaders. 

Williams also said the students would gain hands-on service opportunities at events serving alongside adult volunteers from the community.

“The Elba Youth Leaders Program allows the Chamber to make a genuine commitment to the youth in our community,” Williams said. “There are great rewards to witnessing young people becoming invested in their community through this initiative. We will have a group of young people who have more knowledge of their community, county, state, and how government works.”

She said the Elba Chamber wanted to develop a real connection with Elba City Schools and find a way to meaningfully encourage youth involvement as prescribed in its strategic plan.

“We’re not just checking a box, but we are building sincere, authentic relationships,” Williams added.

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