For many years, the Sewanee Monteagle Rotary Club has sponsored a group of St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School (SAS) juniors to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) at Camp Nakanawa in Crossville, Tenn. This year, Rotarian Michael Cimino-Hurt served as driver and mentor for the students chosen to attend: Jenna Black, Nathan King, Sarah Grace Burns, Porter Neubauer, Myers Gorrell, and Hannah Warmbrod.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is Rotary's leadership training program for young people. District 6780’s event is a one-day, hands-on, leadership skills development program open to outstanding high school juniors with demonstrated leadership qualities. Participants are selected by the local clubs from high schools in their community. RYLA emphasizes leadership, citizenship, and personal growth, and aims to demonstrate Rotary's respect and concern for youth; provide an effective training experience for selected youth and potential leaders; encourage leadership of youth by youth; and recognize publicly young people who are rendering service to their communities.
Jenna Black thought that RYLA was very cool, “It was fun to meet kids from other schools and get to know them. I learned some very useful skills on how to be a good leader. This experience will definitely help me in the future.” Co-participant Myers Gorrell also enjoyed meeting new people from all over Tennessee, “We participated in team and leadership building exercises as well as learned our strengths and weaknesses as leaders. We also heard two different talks from two guest speakers, one of whom works in the Park Service, and the other was the executive director of the 917 Society (an organization striving to educate all 8th graders in the United States about the U.S. Constitution).” Nathan King concurred, “I met new friends and also was taught how to be a better leader. They started with the basics but by the end of the day I was more comfortable being the leader of a group.”
RYLA is just one aspect of the local Rotary club’s outreach to SAS. Last year, the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club and SAS jointly formed an Interact Club for middle and upper school students. SAS student club leaders Charlie Barron and Aidan Smith have elected officers, set regular meeting dates, and are working on two service projects. The club’s faculty sponsor is Head of School Karl Sjolund. The Rotary liaison is Bob Askew.