By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Students from across the Gateway area are gathering to make a difference through the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce’s LEAD program.
Young leaders from local high schools and colleges celebrated their graduation from the ambitious program on Tuesday.
“This has been a great opportunity and I think we have all taken away a lot from this experience and learned new skills,” Clinton High School student at LEAD graduate Hannah Bolen said.
Students from Camanche High School, Clinton High School, Fulton High School, Unity Christian School, Ashford University and Clinton Community College worked together to organize a dodgeball tournament to benefit the Gateway Area Chapter of American Red Cross.
“It’s great how they stepped up and helped out, it’s quite the undertaking,” Gateway Red Cross Executive Director Amber Wood said. “It’s especially nice to see students doing something good with the recent tragedy.”
Participants were carefully selected either by their own teachers or by the LEAD Coordinators and met every other Tuesday from September through December to plan their project and learn from speakers in a variety of career areas. Speakers included Sheriff Rick Lincoln, Ashford University Outreach Coordinator Chris Caves, Eastern Iowa Community College Instructional Technology and Telecommunications Specialist Doug Kutzli and Clinton Chamber of Commerce President Nathan Sondgeroth.
This is the second year the Chamber has offered the leadership program for teens with help from Ashford University and Clinton Community College. LEAD (Leaders Emerging and Developing) was formed to help identify and develop future community leaders within our local school systems and to retain these members in the community. Through this experience many valuable skills are learned, but perhaps the most valuable is working together.
“When you have a group of leaders sometimes it’s hard to even things out, but this group worked really well together,” LEAD Coordinator from Clinton Community College Heather Mohler said.
In early November the group’s plan came to fruition and with seven teams signed up to play in the tournament, it was a success. Many of the students put time in outside of meetings to get work done for the project.
“We really felt there was need to help an organization that does so much for our community and it was great to work together and a lot of fun,” Bollen said.
Even with the great turnout, there were still refreshments left over. The students used this as another opportunity to help out in the community and donated all the leftovers to the Victory Center.