#IMAMUSTANG: Given Opportunity and Access – Leaders are Shaped

Jan 27, 2016 | Have Fun, IMAMUSTANG, Impact, Upper School News

IMG_1777 (1)Inducted into the fifth class of Leadership Sandy Springs back in September 2015, AJ Whitney, Mia Whitney, Jacob Buck and Brooks Langley have been exposed to local political figures and city planners, gained access to courtrooms and jails, sat in on city budget meetings and gone behind the scenes at many other local landmarks. Given opportunity and access, these four Mustangs have taken the initiative to connect to their community, becoming leaders along the way.
Youth Leadership Sandy Springs (YLSS) is a unique opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors who are interested in developing leadership skills, investigating the issues facing Sandy Springs and discovering opportunities for service. Launched by Leadership Sandy Springs in 2011, YLSS is based on Leadership Sandy Springs’ successful 27-year-old program developing community leaders.  It began as a project of the 2010 Leadership Sandy Springs class, who felt offering a program on community leadership is an important step in building the next generation.
What is it about YLSS that made you want to get involved? 
Mia: I was initially interested in Youth Leadership Sandy Springs because it was an opportunity to learn more about the community in which I have grown up, an environment which I previously did not know much about! I viewed it as an opportunity to expand my learning beyond Mount Vernon and into my community. After becoming apart of the group, I now appreciate the friendships I have formed with peers from local schools and the values I have learned.
AJ: I wanted to get involved with Youth Leadership Sandy Springs because I was encouraged to look in to it from our college counselors as a way to involved in our community, something I always wanted to do more of. After looking into the program, I realized that it was just what I was looking for: a way to serve my community surrounded by people my age that I could get to know and have fun with, while at the same time growing as a person. I also wanted to get involved because not only was this program heavily service based but it also teaches the student about their community as a whole and every little part of that whole that must work together to create a functional city.
Jacob: I really wanted to surround my self with other high schoolers who wanted to grow in their leadership skill, people who value service and leadership. I wanted to learn more about how to function and lead in large group settings, especially when the whole group likes to take control.
When you go to college, what YLSS experiences do you think you will drawn upon? 
Mia: Leaving my comfort zone in order to approach complete strangers was, and often still is, very difficult for me, but it is a lesson I have learned through YLSS that I can apply to the rest of my life. When I leave MVPS, I know I will be able to draw upon these experiences to make my leap into college less stressful.
AJ: I will definitely draw upon not only the social skills I have learned, using them to make friends and meet new people, I will also heavily rely on the skills this program has taught me regarding how to interact with adults: not too stiff and formal, yet polite and serious.
Jacob: I think that the experience of interact and working in large group settings and the experience of meeting so many new people and getting to know them quickly are incredibly invaluable skills that I have been able to develop as part of Youth Leadership Sandy Springs.
Applications for the 2016-17 class of Youth Leadership Sandy Springs are now available. The deadline to apply is March 18 and there are 30 spots available.
To be eligible, students must be rising sophomores or juniors who either live  go to school in Sandy Springs.
In YLSS, students get leadership training and teamwork experience along with a unique chance to explore their community’s government, environment, public safety, economy and social services.
During the 2016-17 school year, students will discover Sandy Springs in a cell phone scavenger hunt, act as attorneys in a mock trial, plan a new town center with city planners and developers, go to jail, develop a city budget, hit the stage in improv comedy workshops, geocache at city parks.  At the end of the year, they act, creating a group service project.
For more information, please call LSS Director Polly Warren, 404-252-2787
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