Twenty two local individuals participated in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) conference, Jan. 10-12, 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 activities throughout the weekend.

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: Bridge City representatives Tommy Truong, Erick Harvey, Alexus Henry, Bree Newsom and Blaine Slaughter. Orangefield students were Kristen Blanke, Thanh Tsan, Claire Trawhon, Bailey Berry and Jacob Buckles.  

The Orange Rotary Club sponsored Little Cypress Mauriceville students Sophie Braud and Kirstyn Weathery; and West Orange Stark students Darren Blagburn and Grant Anderson.

Little Cypress Mauriceville Administrator Ryan DuBose and Orangefield High School graduate Robert Ehrlich returned to RYLA as the Adult Leaders for the 24 Alumni Leaders and three Alumni Trainers.

Orange Rotary Club members Jennifer Burtsfield and Kristen Williams, as well as Bridge City-Orangefield Rotary members Eric Andrus and Bridget Luna Trawhon attended as chaperones.  In addition, two men who were instrumental in the establishment of RYLA in District 5910, Ronnie Hutchison and Charles Atkinson, served as Adult Leaders for the weekend’s events.

The adults at RYLA invited Erick Harvey, Kirstyn Weathery, Jacob Buckles and Claire Trawhon to return in January 2015 as Alumni Leaders. 

According to Kristen Blanke, “RYLA was one of the best weekends of my life; I met a lot of great people and learned so much about leadership. I was amazed at how much I learned in the short time I was there! I will never forget the experiences I had there or the people I met.”