Rotary District 5910 hosted the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) conference Jan. 8-10, at the Pineywoods Encampment in Woodlake. This program, sponsored by area Rotary Clubs in District 5910, provides high school students with leadership enhancement opportunities as well as team building. According to Rotary District 5910, RYLA 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.

The Bridge City Orangefield Rotary Club sponsored the following 11th grade students from Bridge City High School:  Hope Hill, Carlee Dearing, Zachary Dionne, and Cameron Martin.  The club also sponsored Orangefield High School students Julia Droll, Alexandria Crouch, Kara Ficken, Matthew “Mack” Patterson, and Ryan Posey.

The Orange Rotary Club sponsored students from West Orange Stark High School, Little Cypress Mauriceville High School, Deweyville High School and Community Christian High School. Jack Dallas and Claydra Rhodes represented WOS.  Connor Alexander and Dalan Jones represented LCM. Tori Wofford attended from Deweyville, also Nathan Rose and Josh Howard represented Community Christian.  In addition, the Orange Rotary Club sponsored Leticia Silva, a foreign exchange student who is in the United States with the Rotary Youth Exchange Program.

The participants spoke favorably about the weekend experience.  Nathan Rose stated, “RYLA was a great experience for me.  In just the few days that I was able to participate, I learned multiple ways in which to enhance, and perfect my leadership skills. I highly recommend it to anyone who is fortunate enough to be selected and I can’t wait to go back next year as a counselor.”

Kara Ficken added, “RYLA was the best experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. I met some of the most amazing people ever. The memories I made impacted me in awesome ways and I learned so much about life, leading, and how to be a better person in general. I will never forget my amazing experience!”

According to Ali Crouch, “RYLA was a life changing experience for me.”

Little Cypress Mauriceville Junior High Principal Ryan DuBose returned to RYLA as the Adult Advisor for the twenty four Youth Alumni Crew Leaders and four Alumni Trainers.  Ryan attended RYLA as an 11th grade participant from Orangefield High School in 2002.  Robert Ehrlich, Lamar University Ambassador and Student Government President returned to RYLA as Adult Advisor. Robert attended RYLA in 2011 as a junior from Orangefield High School.

Claire Trawhon, freshman at Texas A&M University, returned as one of four Alumni Trainers.  Vinny Hale, senior at LCM High School, served as a Youth Alumni Crew Leader.

Orangefield faculty members Candi Patterson and Bridget Luna Trawhon attended as Adult Leaders for the weekend.

This year the Orange and Bridge City Orangefield Rotary Clubs are proud to announce that the Adult Leaders at the conference selected five Orange County high school students to return to next year’s RYLA as Youth Alumni Crew Leaders (counselors):  Jack Dallas, Julia Droll, Dalan Jones, Mack Patterson, and Nathan Rose.