The Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce is expanding its Junior Leadership Academy program to accept students from more high schools in Sebastian County.
JLA’s inaugural class, set to graduate March 2 at a ceremony in the Doubletree by Hilton hotel in downtown Fort Smith, was comprised of 15 students from Northside High School and 15 students from Southside High School – both in Fort Smith. The 2017 class will open to high school students from Future School of Fort Smith, Greenwood, Hackett, and Union Christian Academy.
Modeled after the existing Leadership Fort Smith Program, which is now managed by the chamber, the purpose of the program is: “To develop high school students in community issues, business ethics, social services, business industry, healthcare, government, and quality of place in and around Fort Smith. This program will also focus on innovation, project-based learning, group collaboration and hands-on practical business environments.”
The program, which has the students meeting one day a month, includes sessions on higher education, vocational training, economic development, community volunteer work, and career development.
“While Leadership Fort Smith affords an opportunity for adults to take part in discovering how to engage with the community, the next generation of leaders also needs to be cultivated and motivated to grow with Fort Smith and help lead into the future,” the chamber noted in a statement. “Expanding and educating the workforce is crucial to economic development and sustained growth. In addition, reinforcing career opportunities that are available in the area helps employers long term.”
The program also provides training in the area of personal development, skills training, volunteering opportunities and team building. Another benefit of the program is the opportunity to gain new contacts through networking and relationship building.
Information and program applications will be available through the high school guidance or counseling office. Participants are required to submit an application and letters of reference to the Fort Smith chamber. In addition, applicants are required to write a short essay explaining why they want to be part of JLA. Applications will be reviewed by the Chamber’s Education Committee and in-person interviews will be conducted before making the final selection.
Link here for more information about the 2017 application process.