Bright future: Youth Leadership Natchez learns the ropes
NATCHEZ — Five high school 11th graders simultaneously pulled a bed sheet Tuesday afternoon launching a football through the air past another group of students attempting to catch the ball with their sheet.
The team-building exercise was part of the first day of Youth Leadership Natchez, a career and leadership development program aimed at developing a group of young leaders to eventually assume responsible leadership roles in the community.
Eighteen high school students from Adams County schools applied and were selected to participate in the seven-month program.
The program is branching off Leadership Natchez, which is a year-long program operated under the umbrella of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce geared at developing and retaining leadership among professionals in the community.
Adams County Extension Service Director David Carter, who works with the Leadership Natchez program, led the high-school students through various activities Tuesday ranging from designing group T-shirts to team-building exercises.
“The purpose of all these exercises is for them to work together toward achieving one common goal,” Carter said. “And they learned that if they didn’t work together as a team, everyone fails.
“But (they) also (learned) how to work from your failures and realize what things you could have done to improve.”
Cathedral School junior Akua Kumi said she realized through the exercises the importance of working together instead of individually.
“When things got the hardest during the exercises, that’s when we had to work together the most,” Kumi said. “We had to work as a team to get everything done.”
The program is comprised of seven monthly, full-day sessions from October through April.
Once a month, the participating students will be excused from their school classes to participate in the program’s activities.
The activities range from tourism and history tours, such as a buggy ride around town and a tour of the Natchez National Cemetery, to tours of economic development industries such as Enersteel and Elevance.
Adams County Christian School junior Kayla McCready said she applied for the program in hopes of cultivating her leadership skills.
“It seemed like a good opportunity to learn about leadership things,” McCready said. “I had fun (Tuesday).”
The program will also include several tours and learning sessions with the Natchez Board of Aldermen and Adams County Board of Supervisors in hopes of familiarizing the students with how local government works.
Trinity Episcopal Day School junior Alex Miller said he was looking forward to the upcoming sessions and participating in the program overall.
“A lot of colleges are looking for things like this to show you’re involved and can eventually be a leader,” Miller said. “The leadership aspect is something you need if you want to be successful in life.”
Natchez High School junior Damien Henderson was in the group who designed the program’s T-shirt, which included the Mississippi River bridge and the phrase, “If it is to be, it is up to me,” listed below.
Henderson said he was excited for the opportunity to be a part of the program.
“All of these activities and lessons are going to help us become better leaders, and that’s something I want to do,” Henderson said. “Being from Natchez, I’m very interested in being a future leader for Natchez and Adams County.”