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Chick-fil-A’s leadership development program begins at UCHS

UCHS students Savannah Adams, Noah Berry, Libby Butler, Tanya Chavez, Paige Cooper, Katie Crain, Jacob Fain, Dillon Foster, Ben Hensley, Trevor Hensley, Noah Higgins, Rebecca Hopson, Katie Larimer, Danny Lowery, Chase McNabb, Ian Miller, Teresa Ramirez, Deah Seward, Abby Webb and Caleb Wilson were among those chosen to participate in the inaugural Chick-fil-A Leader Academy. The group’s first meeting included preparing 100 meals for distribution by Second Harvest Food Bank. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Curtis Carden)
UCHS students Savannah Adams, Noah Berry, Libby Butler, Tanya Chavez, Paige Cooper, Katie Crain, Jacob Fain, Dillon Foster, Ben Hensley, Trevor Hensley, Noah Higgins, Rebecca Hopson, Katie Larimer, Danny Lowery, Chase McNabb, Ian Miller, Teresa Ramirez, Deah Seward, Abby Webb and Caleb Wilson were among those chosen to participate in the inaugural Chick-fil-A Leader Academy. The group’s first meeting included preparing 100 meals for distribution by Second Harvest Food Bank. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Curtis Carden)

By Curtis Carden
Sports Writer

A host of Unicoi County High School students and teachers met in school’s library on Wednesday, Oct. 7, for the kickoff event of the inaugural Chick-fil-A Leader Academy.
“We brought it to Unicoi County as a three-year program and will continue after that,” said Connie Larimer, Chick-fil-A director of marketing. “There were 30 students that were picked by teachers and administrators to participate that are thriving-leader type students.”
The Leader Academy will meet once a month, Larimer added. The class will conclude in May with a community project. A video presentation at Wednesday’s kickoff allowed the group to brainstorm different ideas used by other schools, including a Battle of the Badges basketball game and a senior-senior dance involving the community’s senior citizens.
Students at Wednesday’s event included Savannah Adams, Noah Berry, Libby Butler, Tanya Chavez, Paige Cooper, Katie Crain, Jacob Fain, Dillon Foster, Ben Hensley, Trevor Hensley, Noah Higgins, Rebecca Hopson, Katie Larimer, Danny Lowery, Chase McNabb, Ian Miller, Teresa Ramirez, Deah Seward, Abby Webb and Caleb Wilson.
The ability to have kids engaged in leadership development is something UCHS couldn’t pass up, according to Principal Dr. Chris Bogart.
“We really didn’t know too much about it,” Bogart said. “Connie brought it to us here at the school and I thought it would be a wonderful idea. To partner with a great organization like Chik-fil-A, you can’t pass that up. For us, it just makes perfect sense. We’re trying to get kids into the idea of taking on more leadership responsibilities and this is just another way we can do that for them.”
Leader Academy is just another way0 the school is trying to engage students, the principal said.
“That’s one of the things we try to focus on,” Bogart added about the student engagement. “These are opportunities we want to present to kids so they can grow personally and grow their leadership skills and take ownership of their lives. When we find worthwhile things, like the Leader Academy, it just adds to that. Whether it is this or any other clubs we have, it’s just a great opportunity for our kids to find that leadership. What we need to realize is the more kids can be attached to something at school, the more beneficial their educational experience will be; so we try to push them to be involved in something.”
According to the Chick-Fil-A Leader Academy website, funding for the annual $4,000 per school tuition comes from sponsorships from local Chick-fil-A Operators, Chick-fil-A, Inc. and Coca-Cola.
Last week’s kickoff saw students participate in different exercises and concluded with the preparation of 100 meals that will be distributed locally by Second Harvest Food Bank.
“It is about getting the school involved, the community involved … everybody,” Larimer said. “All the schools around the United States prepare meals. Once they finish the boxes, we’ll mail them off to Second Harvest.”
The UCHS Leader Academy is sponsored by a Chick-fil-A based out of Johnson City, which is sponsoring three schools, Larimer said.
“We felt it was a good partnership here,” she added.
UCHS teacher Stacia Silvers serves as the teacher contact for the UCHS Leader Academy.