CLINTON — Fourteen students gathered Tuesday at the Tuscany Room at Rastrelli’s in Clinton, to celebrate an accomplishment few local students have the opportunity to experience.
The third annual Leaders Emerging and Developing (LEAD) youth leadership class accepted their graduation certificates Tuesday, after completing a nearly five month long program that teaches high school seniors and college freshmen the importance of leadership in their community, career and life.
Representatives from the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Community College and Ashford University were there to present the certificates and express their pride to the students from Clinton High School, Fulton Unity Christian High School, Camanche High School, Clinton Community College, Prince of Peace College Preparatory and Ashford University during the graduation lunch.
“We can honestly say this was a successful year,” Clinton Community College admissions coordinator Heather Mohler said.
The students also agreed that the year, and the LEAD service project, was a success.
For their “class project,” this year’s LEAD group organized and hosted a family fall festival to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Connection, an Iowa based non-profit organization aimed at providing support for children and their families who are battling cancer.
The group raised more than $400 during the fall festival event and plans on donating all of the proceeds to the Children’s Cancer Connection later this month.
Being a part of a successful fundraiser was one of the highlights for some of the LEAD students, but other aspects of the program had others excited.
“Personally my favorite part was taking a quiz online that showed us what our leadership strengths were and how to apply them to life,” Clinton High School senior Samantha Burns said.
Other favorites during the five-month program included seminars and guest speakers who taught students about leadership qualities, using their strengths, project development and the importance of leadership in education, technology and employment.
During the ceremony, Mohler reiterated the importance of the program to not only the students but also the community, and that building tomorrow’s leaders is the goal of the LEAD program.
“This program is close to my heart,” Mohler said.