Graduation day for LAYL

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By The Staff

Graduates of the Los Alamos Youth Leadership class of 2009 recently celebrated their accomplishments of the year, with a congratulatory dinner sponsored by Los Alamos National Bank.

The theme for 2009, like many other recent events, tied into the Los Alamos celebration of the 60th anniversary.

The guest speakers for the event were Mary Jean Nilsson and Jay Wechsler. Nilsson and Weschler both arrived in the early days and have seen a lot of change throughout the years.

Wechsler arrived as an Army trained engineer to work with such great names as Otto Frisch and Alvin Graves.

Nilsson arrived in 1944, as the only fourth grade teacher in the community and lived in the dorms at the time.

Los Alamos was a community of similar aged residents back in the day and today’s youth leadership class, mirrors that image. Both represent a variety of backgrounds, cultures and ages, working together for a common purpose with the personality and drive to accomplish their goals.

One such goal of the LAYL class members was to embark on fundraising, a new challenge issued to teams. The ensuing plans and actions netted funds to benefit a needy family in the community during the holidays and the new addition of a picnic table to benefit Los Alamos High School.

The picnic table will illustrate the hard work of teams to benefit their school for years to come. The gift then becomes part of the landscape, where these students spend not only a large portion of their day but many formative years of their lives.

The highlight of graduation day was spending time with Facilitator Sean Hall of On The Edge Productions. Hall leads teams through a series of leadership activities and reminds students to always return to the eight leadership keys to success.

The teens then headed to the Central Avenue Grill where they worked to add their own touch to the decorations for the celebration. The students were joined by their parents to reflect back on their year of dedicated service to both the program and the community.

Chef Phil Kephart provided dinner, which was followed by the guest speakers, team presentations and gifts.

Several of the senior classmen who spent four years in the program were recognized for their contributions.

The graduating seniors included Kory Archuleta, Evan Black, Nat Gustafson, Ben Havemann, Elliot Marcille, Jessie Patillo, Arianna Rowberry, Benigno Sandoval, Micah Schmiedicke, Isaac Schilling and Shelby Stringer. The seniors received a special gift from their adult counterparts in the Leadership Los Alamos program.

The LAYL program begins the year with a staff of three graduates from the Leadership Los Alamos program to collaborate with the youth carry out their plans. The adult leaders have staffed each LAYL class since it was established in 2005.  

The fun begins all over again during this summer with a two-day orientation to break down barriers, begin building relationships and welcome new freshmen into the fold. The two-day orientation, which takes place Aug. 5-6, is one of only three mandatory requirements for the students.

The applications, due June 30, are available online through the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos YMCA. The two-day orientation session will be held at Fuller Lodge and those interested in learning more can contact the YMCA at 662-3100.