Cleveland, Tarkington students share experiences of Rotary Youth Leadership Academy

The Cleveland RYLA group includes Cade, Martha, Hailey, Karina, Richard, Tatiana, Adelane, Shilo, Lance, Micah, Christian, Anna Claire, Gabriella and Madison.

RYLA students from Cleveland and Tarkington high schools representing the Rotary Club of Cleveland presented a program to Cleveland Rotarians on Jan. 16 to share their experiences at the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy. Themes of the RYLA academy are team building, leadership and trust.

Cleveland Rotary’s RYLA chairperson Ernestine Belt had the RYLArians stand and introduce themselves to the club.  Tatiana Jones presented a PowerPoint presentation that addressed growth, discovery, value and excellence. 

Team building exercises included working together to trust each other, which meant falling backward off a wall and trusting they would be caught by other team members.

Leadership exercises included the River of Lava obstacle course, letting others lead and working together.  In a game of blind mice, the person last in line leads from the back; the lead person in front of the line has a ball to drop and is being led to the dropped ball by the last person in the line.  They learn there is more than one way to lead.

One student explained how they learned ways to prove if a story was ethical/non-ethical by using the Rotary 4-Way test. The 4-Way test asks: “Is it truthful? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Is it beneficial to all concerned?”

In listening exercises, they learned that sometimes the quietest person on the team may have the best idea, so it’s important to listen.

The RYLArians said they had a great time at the academy. On different teams, they built a car out of cardboard.  Some got the car across by carrying parts across the finish line because theirs had fallen apart.  One student from Cleveland was on a team that built a car that stayed together and crossed the finish line. 

These 14 students representing the Rotary Club of Cleveland at RYLA ended the program by saying, “It was a fantastic weekend.  Thank you, Rotary Club of Cleveland, for selecting us to go to RYLA.”

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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