Fort Smith Chamber ready to enroll inaugural class of Junior Leadership Academy

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 105 views 

The Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce is seeking its first class in a high school leadership program the group announced in October.

Modeled after the existing Leadership Fort Smith Program, the Fort Smith Junior Leadership Academy is designed 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.”

At the October announcement, then incoming Chamber Board Chairman Sam T. Sicard said one of the program goals is to show students “they can make a real difference in our community.”

Sicard, who is president and CEO of Fort Smith-based First Bank Corp., said in a Wednesday (Jan. 27) statement from the chamber that the program will help students “connect with other community leaders to learn how they can turn their passion in life into real-world actions. First National Bank is grateful to have the opportunity to invest in our community’s future by being the Presenting Sponsor in this worthwhile endeavor.”

Other lead sponsors include, Sykes Enterprises, Inc. and the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. Sponsorships help keep the fee at only $25 per student, with the remaining $400 tuition paid by the business community. Each class will have 25 students.

“We’re offering the students a ‘backstage pass’ to interact with future employers so they can see firsthand the career opportunities of the 21st century. Connecting future employers and high school students at this level has never been done before in Fort Smith,” Tim Allen, chamber president and CEO, said in the statement.

The Junior Leadership Academy will be made up of a diverse group of high school students from Northside and Southside High Schools, the chamber noted. Throughout the course, students will work together in team-based learning modules where they will have the opportunity to meet and interact with leaders from area businesses, government agencies and civic organizations.

Academy sessions will include a community overview, higher education, vocational training, business & industry/economic development, career development and a day spent volunteering in the community. In addition, students will participate by planning and implementing a small group project of their own design. These projects will be presented at a celebration banquet at the conclusion of the program.

Applications for the program can be picked up at Northside and Southside High Schools in the counselors’ office or at the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, 612 Garrison Avenue. Applications are due on March 1, 2016, and the first class will be announced by April 29, 2016.

According to the chamber, the selection criteria includes:
• Commitment to personal growth;
• Commitment and motivation to serve the community through volunteer work;
• Personal commitment to improving the community environment to favorably impact the development and quality of the community;
• Strength of recommendations;
• Essay;
• GPA of at least 2.0;
• Reliable attendance history in school; and
• Desire to be successful.

Link here for more information about the academy and how to register.

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