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Teens to build character at Rotary Youth Leadership Awards

Participants at the 2014 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards stand by the space shuttle at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. This year's conference will be held on Jan. 29-31. (CONTRIBUTED)
Participants at the 2014 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards stand by the space shuttle at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. This year’s conference will be held on Jan. 29-31. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – North Alabama teenagers will hear from strong role models at the 2015 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center on Jan. 29-31.

District RYLA chairperson Karen Morris said the event exposes scholars to Rotary’s Four-Way Test: “Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”

One event goal is to convince participants that they will make correct choices by basing decisions on the Four-Way Test. “The choices may not always be the easiest but will always be correct,” Morris said. “Another goal is to impact scholars to know that we all need to serve and give back to the community.”

Rotary Club of Madison is sponsoring 11 teenagers from James Clemens, Bob Jones and St. John Paul II Catholic high schools and Madison and Westminster Christian academies.

All clubs in Rotary District 6860, which covers North Alabama including Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, are eligible to sponsor scholars. This year, 106 sophomores, juniors and seniors will attend and stay on-site at the center’s Habitat.

Other RYLA committee members are program chair Louis Michetti, Debbie Coates, Linda Green, Jerry Mercer and Chuck Brand with Huntsville Rotary Club; Melanie Buford and Andrew Sieja, Greater Huntsville Rotary Club; Donna Berger, Paula Cushman, Doug Rossetti and Sandy Patel, Rotary Club of Madison; and Joanna White, Huntsville Rotaract.

The concluding program will feature State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw; Al Mathis, whose grandfather wrote the Four-Way Test; Tony McGinnis, Harris Home; and Stephen Black, Impact Alabama.

Kathy Sieja will introduce ice-breakers for the scholars to become acquainted. “Judge Sybil Cleveland will tell about her journey from college to becoming a judge and staying the course when hardships arise,” Morris said.

A new feature for 2015, Rachel’s Challenge “is an anti-bullying program that discusses conflict resolution and how to treat our peers,” Morris said. Rotarians hope that participants will ask their schools to initiate the program.

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