By Conrad Dudderar
A leadership development program for Yukon High School freshmen has evolved this year to include a second group of students.
Sophomores have joined the freshmen this fall in the 29-member 22nd Leaders of Tomorrow class.
“They’re just excited to have the opportunity to participate in activities that help them grow,” advisor Darryl Andrews said. “They’ve learned a lot so far and have much more to do.”
Sponsored by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, Leaders of Tomorrow is a three-month program for YHS freshmen who are potential leaders, proven leaders and non-traditional leaders.
The program had to be canceled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, so the 2020-22 Leaders of Tomorrow is a “hybrid” class.
“It’s actually last year’s kids who wanted to be in it – and this year’s group,” said Andrews, who has spent decades at the school’s Student Council and Leadership Class advisor. “There are 13 freshmen and 16 sophomores.
“We thought about splitting this year’s class up with the freshmen in the fall and sophomores in the spring, but we decided to do the hybrid class. It seems to be working really well.”
Members of the YHS Leaders of Tomorrow are:
Freshmen: Ethan Achipa, Britten Bengs, Italy Blankenship, Carlie Clowdus, Finnagan Cring, Alma De Leora, Kacey Gilpin, Riley Nelson, Grace Philip, Bhoomika Mistry, Ava Vandersee, Niya Varghese, and Meleah Wilson.
Sophomores: Kiera Blumhof, Bryce Bogle, Keaton Cox, Davis Crabtree, Marlee Fort, Phoenix Garner, Victoria Gruzewski, Charleigh Ingram, Hadley Odom, Alexa Palomino, Gillian Pickering, Alix Regier, Ashlynn Sanderson, Ava Stanley, Riley Swafford, and Ryan Thomas.
This year’s Yukon Leaders of Tomorrow have completed sessions on personality testing Oct. 5 at Fairfield Inn & Suites, the ropes challenge course Oct. 8 at the University of Central Oklahoma/Lake Arcadia and public speaking Oct. 11 at Yukon First United Methodist Church.
Next up on Tuesday, Oct. 19 is a professional day with guest speakers that morning inside the council chambers at the Centennial Building, 12 S 5th. Lunch will be courtesy of Carolyn Henthorn at YNB bank. Business site tours featuring the Express Clydesdales Barn and Oklahoma City Will Rogers Airport will follow in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, freshmen will participate in UCO’s freshman leadership academy on Wednesday, Oct. 27.
The YHS Leaders of Tomorrow class will participate in a mock city council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 2 inside the Centennial Building. There are tentative plans for a service project later in November at the Ronald McDonald House.
Graduation will be next February or March at a Yukon Chamber membership luncheon.
Longtime Yukon banker David Goodwin of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and Ernie Gomez (then of Southwestern Bell) were instrumental in bringing Leaders of Tomorrow to Yukon in the late 1990s.
They met with then-Yukon Public Schools’ Superintendent Terry Dean, who suggested Andrews to lead the program.
“Leaders of Tomorrow is sponsored and driven by the community and business leaders,” said Andrews, who has taught at YHS since 1985. “They see the value in these young people and the opportunities they want them to have and to experience.”
The program’s longtime advisor pointed to Yukon-area business leaders who are alumni of the YHS student leadership program – like Rachel (Smith) Goble and Avery (Johnson) Moore.