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Christian Leadership Academy awards students
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The inaugural Effingham YMCA’s Christian Leadership Academy completed its class and was recognized for its achievement. From left to right are, Peggy Smith, Effingham YMCA board sponsor, Kim Dennis, Effingham YMCA executive director, Emily Woods, Cody Warnock, Hannah Steese, Landon Snooks, Danielle Paulk, Aaron Willis, Abby Chance, Richard Socia, Nicole Bailey, Micah Christenson, Holly Nance, Larry Spradley and Darren Thomas, Effingham YMCA board sponsor. - photo by Photo provided

The Effingham YMCA recently awarded 12 Effingham County High School sophomores and juniors with awards of excellence for completing the 2009-10 year of the Christian Leadership Academy.  

The Christian Leadership Academy is a seven-month program, beginning in September of each year, designed to take 12 high school sophomores and juniors from Effingham County public and private schools and train them in the skills of leadership from a Christian perspective.

The purpose of the Christian Leadership Academy is to train today’s students to carry Christian leadership principles into the future world of family, education, church, government, and business.    

The 2009-10 inaugural class of the Christian Leadership Academy were:  Nicole Bailey, Abby Chance, Micah Christenson, Holly Nance, Danielle Paulk, Landon Snooks, Richie Socia, Larry Spradley, Hannah Steese, Cody Warnock, Aaron Willis and Emily Woods. Once a month, the students met for a meal and heard from different Christian leaders from our community.

At each session the students heard valuable talks on integrity, God’s purpose, and Christian character in leadership.  These sessions taught students how to be a Christian leader in their personal lives, family lives, and professional lives.

The students also gave 20 hours of volunteer service to the YMCA and enjoyed a trip to the Georgia State Capitol in January.

Special thank you to the CLA guest speakers for 2009-2010: Randy Bugos (CEO of YMCA of Coastal Georgia), state Rep. Jon Burns, state Rep. Ann R. Purcell, Dr. Nathalie Starling (South Effingham High), Harry Shearouse (CEO of Citizens Bank of Effingham), Jason Pridgen (teacher at Ebenezer Elementary), Floyd and Carolyn Zeller (Effingham Co. home builder), Rev. Jeff Rollins (pastor of First Baptist Church of Springfield), and Talbert Edenfield (president of Edenfield Financial Services, Inc.).  

The Christian Leadership Academy offered its thanks to businesses and individuals that provided meals and locations for the meetings: Coastal Concrete, e-Local Yellow Pages, Dewitt Insurance, Citizens Bank, Ebenezer Elementary, Zittrouer Ponderosa Family, First Baptist Church of Springfield, the Effingham YMCA Board of Directors, the Effingham County Courthouse, and the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce.  Businesses and individuals that supported the program through financial gifts or in-kind contributions — BB&T bank of Rincon, Wilson and Kessler CPA, New Life Florists, Tim Coleman and Coastal Concrete — also were thanked.

The CLA also offered a special thanks to state Reps. Ann Purcell and Jon Burns and Tess Hynes and the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce for a successful and informative visit to the state Capitol.  

They also offered a special thanks to YMCA Board member Peggy Smith for organizing each meeting location and meal.  

“The program has succeeded in its first year because of the great outpouring of support that we have experienced from our community,” said Dr. Darren Thomas, Effingham YMCA Board sponsor. “These students have not only heard about Christian ethics, but have seen them, first hand, in the great leaders that we have here in Effingham County. We are excited about the future of the program and look forward to working with other YMCA branches in the Coastal Georgia area who have expressed interest in beginning the program in their branches."      

Nominations are being taken now for the 2010-11 class that will be announced in August of this year. Deadline for applications is Aug. 14. All participants will receive a free YMCA membership for one year (September-August) along with the valuable lessons learned through the program.

For more information about the program or to obtain application forms, contact the Effingham YMCA at 826-2199.  Only 12 students will be selected by the Effingham YMCA Board of Directors.