Youth Leadership Shelby County celebrates new class at opening retreat

Published 6:37 am Tuesday, November 7, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – During a span of two days, youth leaders from across Shelby County participated in a special kickoff event at the Alabama 4H Center in Columbiana along the banks of Lay Lake.

The group of carefully selected leaders are members of the Youth Leadership Shelby County Class of 2024 and were hand selected by a committee.

The class of 33 were picked from more than 100 applications to participate in the prestigious program and took part in the opening retreat Nov. 5-6.

The retreat kicked off a special start to a journey that will last throughout the school year with the students participating set to take part in different class days that will occur each month.

Throughout the year, the participants will also join together in different groups to work on projects that will help make a difference in the community by picking a non-profit or organization in need of help.

The students will use their different leadership skills and personalities to come together and make a difference in their community as juniors in high school.

Throughout the opening retreat, they got their first taste of what to expect throughout the months long venture that will culminate with a graduation near the end of the school year.

Activities included going through the ropes course at the 4H Center and working together as teams, personality assessments, a round table with Youth Leadership Shelby County alumni to learn what to take advantage of during the class, a class introduction featuring the participants introducing each other in unique skits and many more icebreakers.

“The Youth Leadership Shelby County Opening Retreat opened my mind up to so many different possibilities and ideas I had never thought of before,” said class member Abby Nave of Shelby County High School. “I got to meet so many wonderful, remarkable, and truly inspiring people, who I can’t wait to continue this journey with. The Class of 2024 is definitely the best class yet!”

The event, however, was centered around the goal of the class, which is learning about each other as leaders in the community.

Students, who range from high schools around the county, got to hear from Alabama Teacher of the Year Jeff Norris, motivational speaker Timothy Alexander and many more throughout the two days, showcasing the true definition of what it takes to be a selfless leader and leave your impact.

“The professionals we had the opportunity to learn from at the retreat provided great insights on how to successfully apply leadership qualities to life endeavors outside of school,” Pelham student Brenna Vickery said.

The opening retreat helped build bonds and friendships, while bring together young leaders in the community who all make a difference in their own way.

Now, they’ll work together the next few months to bring their leadership skills together to make a difference.

This year’s class includes:

-Grant Blakely, Chelsea High School

-Belle Casey, Oak Mountain High School

-Sofia Contreras, Spain Park High School

-Ella Fields, Vincent High School

-Sasha Gann, Thompson High School

-Andrew George, Chelsea High School

-Addison Grigsby, Shelby County High School

-Ava Horn, Calera High School

-Abe Ivey, Oak Mountain High School

-Mia Kendrick, Evangel Christian Classical School

-Addie Knight, Pelham High School

-Patrick Maddox, Chelsea High School

-Camdyn Martin, Pelham High School

-Ali Mims, Chelsea High School

-Halle Morris, Evangel Christian School

-Abby Nave, Shelby County High School

-Will O’Dell, Oak Mountain High School

-Lissy O’Kelley, Oak Mountain High School

-Abby Olsen, Briarwood Christian School

-Jake Parker, Evangel Christian School

-John Will Peterson, Oak Mountain High School

-Aiden Poe, Vincent High School

-Alyson Ragland, Helena High School

-Anjali Reed, Helena High School

-Kailyn Reynolds, Thompson High School

-Jarret Scott, Helena High School

-Maddie Shebs, Pelham High School

-Madi Claire Sims, Chelsea High School

-Thomas Starkey, Calera High School

-Mallory Venable, Shelby County High School

-Brenna Vickery, Pelham High School

-Sydney Williams, Calera High School