The first Legacy Youth Institute (LYI) class, a six-session leadership and mentoring program designed to equip student leaders to pass on the area’s “Ozark Mountain Spirit” to future generations, celebrated their completion of the program at a Graduation Banquet held at the Best Western Inn and Conference Center.
Over the course of the school year, LYI students from Reeds Spring, Hollister, Blue Eye, Galena, Branson, School of the Ozarks, Hurley, Crane, and the homeschool community have been equipped to preserve and pass on the legacy values present in Ozark Mountain Country – Family, Faith, Friends, Flag, and a preferred Future. Each LYI session focused on a different value and challenged students to consider how they can champion that value now and in the future.
“We wanted these students to realize that even though they are young, they have a very important role to fulfill in preserving the legacy of our community,” said Jory Rolf, Executive Director of Ozark Mountain Legacy.
As a part of the LYI experience, students from each school were asked to develop and implement an initiative in their schools that champions one or more of the legacy values. These initiatives are designed to encourage fellow students to participate in hands-on opportunities that reinforce the values of the area. The students presented their initiatives at the Graduation Banquet.
LYI students at Reeds Spring, Blue Eye, and Galena plan to champion “Flag” by working with school administrators to include time each day for all students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. They believe that this simple daily act will help remind students of the uniqueness of our country’s heritage and will help grow in them an appreciation for the veterans and active military personnel whose sacrifices have ensured their freedoms.
Other LYI students focused their initiatives on “Friends” by creating programs that will support meeting the needs of those in the community who need extra help. Students in Hollister, Branson, and School of the Ozarks plan to coordinate food drives to support local charities that are focused on eliminating hunger in our area. Students in Galena have coordinating the opening of a “911 Closet” that provides clothing and basic hygiene necessities for those in need.
LYI students in Hollister have developed initiatives that will involve younger students in activities such as making cards for the elderly and veterans and participating in the “Shoeboxes for Soldiers” program. They recognize that as student leaders, they have an opportunity to mentor younger students and to encourage them to live in a way that reflects the values of the area.
Students expressed appreciation at the Graduation Banquet for the opportunity they had to participate in the first Legacy Youth Institute.
“The Legacy Youth Institute has helped me to become a better person and leader,” said Lillie Davis, Blue Eye High School student. “It has encouraged me to pass on the five core values in my school and community and to make a difference.”
“The Legacy Youth Institute helped me realize my ability to actively impact our community both now and in the future,” said Branson High School student Rachel Hanson.
Ozark Mountain Legacy would like to thank all those in the community who made this first year of the Legacy Youth Institute such a success and is looking forward to watching these students continue to engage with their communities during their senior year in high school.
“We have been so impressed with the passion and enthusiasm of these students to intentionally shape the culture around them. Getting to know these outstanding young leaders has given me confidence that our community will be in good hands in the future.”
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