By Pixie Sulser
Ramona Rotary Club is sending four high school juniors — two from Ramona and two from Julian — to the 2012 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) conference in Idyllwild.
Ramona High School junior Ellen Douglass and Mountain Valley Academy junior Jessica Mallonee will represent Ramona at the annual leadership camp April 20 through 22.
Representing Julian High School will be Clint Southcott and Michelle Tyndall. Alternates chosen for JHS include Allison Duffy, Hannah Elliott, and Jasmine Madeyski.
RYLA is an international program, created by Rotary International, to encourage leadership among young people. A student’s leadership potential marks him or her as a candidate for the all-expenses paid camp, which focuses on “developing and enhancing leadership skills through activities conducted in an atmosphere of trust and respect.”
Douglass, involved in community service through the RHS Fusion Club and the National Honor Society, learned of the RYLA opportunity through her aunt, a counselor at Fallbrook High School, and RHS Fusion adviser Jim Plum.
“The conference is all about leadership and how to become a better leader,” said Douglass. “I just see this as an amazing chance to learn from others and to take steps toward becoming a better leader in the future.”
Besides her involvement in Fusion and NHS, Douglass is a two-year member of the varsity tennis team. After graduating from RHS in 2013, she hopes to attend Duke University to study medicine with a goal of becoming a pediatrician.
Mallonee learned about RYLA conference from her history teacher at Mountain Valley Academy (MVA). Assistant editor of her school’s yearbook and a leader in the school’s Christian Club, she thought the conference “sounds like a fun experience.”
She completed the application process and was surprised when she was chosen. “I honestly didn’t think I would be accepted.”
In addition to her leadership activities in school, Mallonee babysits for a parenting class at the Ramona Pregnancy Care Center, organizes and operates the coffee bar at her church, and helps teach a Sunday school class for kindergarten through fourth grade.
Mallonee’s future plans include attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to study photography, acting, and possibly fashion or multi-media communications.
Ramona Rotarian Melissa Brunner explained that counselors, government advisers, and principals are asked in January and February to contact students they think would benefit from the RYLA leadership experience. Students are asked to review the website with their parents, and, if interested, to apply online.
Applications are printed and submitted to their counselor/adviser along with a one- to two-page essay. Interviews are scheduled from the application pool.
“We interview every applicant who shows up,” said Brunner. “We ask them about their leadership dreams for their senior year of high school, what they’ve done so far along the lines of community service, what leadership roles they have held in the past, and their plans for life after high school.
“Our hope is that the RYLA leadership conference will give students a chance to address leadership problems such as how to delegate and how to work with a team as well as share ideas with like-minded peers from all around San Diego. It’s wonderful to witness the excitement and newfound confidence the students have when they speak to our Rotary Club after attending RYLA.”
Ramona Rotary pays $250 for each of the students to attend the RYLA.