Commemorating 16 years of the Leadership Fayette County program, a graduation banquet and alumni reunion were hosted at the Oak Hill Holiday Lodge Conference Center this spring with storyteller Bil Lepp as guest speaker. The event was catered by Café 110.
Each of the graduating students delivered a speech demonstrating their personal development through the program and voiced their appreciation to the program leaders and to those who made the program possible.
The Fayette County Education Fund, Inc. honored and recognized the graduating members of the Leadership Fayette County Class of 2018: Fayetteville High School students John-Daniel Franklin, Edison Jones, Konnor Pack and Lauren Vaught; Meadow Bridge High School student Evelyn Patterson; Midland Trail High School students Tabitha Gill, Austin Isaacs and Laurel Johnson; Oak Hill High School students Matthew Cortines, Emma Davis, Mason Harp and Madison Surface; and Valley High School student Vada Barker.
The Leadership program’s mission is to prepare tomorrow’s community leaders. Throughout their junior year the students met for a full day once or twice each month to take part in various leadership training sessions. Each session is designed to help the students develop a working knowledge of the individuals, agencies and programs that foster economic and social development in Fayette County; enhance their effectiveness in public speaking and presentation skills; gain knowledge of the power of the spoken and written word while assessing the audience and its reaction to leadership efforts; work in groups assimilating community development and governance practices; experience a variety of leadership tactics and skills and how to apply them; and be immersed in critical and creative thinking-on-their-feet by being placed in situations outside their normal comfort zone to acclimate them to the process of performing under pressure in real world situations.
Each session is considered by the Fayette County Board of Education as an educational leave of absence. Once accepted into the Leadership program, participation is mandatory. Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the sessions. There is no cost to the students to participate. The program is provided by the nonprofit Fayette County Education Fund, Inc. and supported by various fundraising efforts throughout the year such as the New River Birding & Nature Festival, as well as donations made by individuals, businesses and organizations.
Each year Fayette County high school sophomores are selected by application and interview to participate in the Leadership program throughout their junior year. Completing the application and interview is a beneficial learning experience and demonstrates courage and an interest in personal growth. Additionally, every student who submits an application and attends an interview is invited to the Simulated Society session later in the year.
The Education Fund is humbled to attract the outstanding young adults who apply to its Leadership program. Each application and interview is very carefully reviewed and strong characteristics are noted in every candidate. The selection process is a difficult task for the interviewing committee as they have to make choices between many outstanding applicants.
The Education Fund is already preparing for the upcoming year and is excited to reveal the incoming Leadership Fayette County class of 2019: Fayetteville High School students Malerie Hendrick and Elizabeth Lowe; Meadow Bridge High School student Betty Watson; Midland Trail High School students Taylor Perry and Zackery Wood; Oak Hill High School students Josiah Baker, Makayla Ball, Amanda Flint, Jonna Myers, Andre Re and Siera Underwood; and Valley High School student Allen Comer III.
The ultimate goal of the Leadership program is to provide its participants with the information and tools needed to enable them to make informed choices to return to Fayette County upon completion of their higher education while promoting essential leadership qualities and providing first hand experiences in the business, government and tourism sectors of Fayette County.
Since 2002 the program has graduated more than 200 Leadership Fayette County program students, many graduates have earned admittance into highly competitive programs and universities and have returned to Fayette County in various professional fields such as teachers, accountants, marketing directors, law enforcement officers, engineers, health care professionals and small business owners.
Scholarships and programming are made possible by donations to the 501c3 Fayette County Education Fund, Inc. Generous supporters include ACE Adventure Resort, Adventures on the Gorge, Ansted Lions Club, Appalachian Electric Power Company, Bridge Walk, Crosier’s Sanitation, Epic Escape Game New River Gorge, Fayette County Board of Education and Superintendent Terry George, Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, Fayette County Commission, Fayette County National Bank, Hamilton Burgess Young & Pollard and Christopher Frost, Esq., Honorable Judge John Hatcher, Impel Promotions, Jan-Care Ambulance, Jon Dragan Family, Kroger of Oak Hill, New River Gorge CVB, Opossum Creek Retreat, Patrick and Alecia Ford, The Robbins Company, and Water Stone Outdoors.
To learn more about the program, visit facebook.com/LeadershipFayetteCounty or email program coordinators and leadership coaches Rachel Davis at email@example.com or Geoff Heeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.