Class members for the inaugural Junior Leadership Academy of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce were named Friday (April 29), with 30 students named instead of the planned 25 because of the number of quality applicants, said Chamber President Tim Allen.
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.”
When announcing the program, chamber officials said the JLA would be made up of a diverse group of high school students from Northside and Southside High Schools. 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.
“Today I am excited to announce the inaugural class for the Junior Leadership Academy 2016-2017,” Allen noted in a statement. “The JLA program works to effect positive change in our community by providing high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to build leadership skills through interaction with local leaders and decision makers.”
The chamber received 59 applications from Northside and Southside High School students. Applicants were required to submit an application and letters of reference to the Fort Smith chamber. In addition, they had to write an essay explaining why they had a desire to be part of the JLA experience. The Chamber’s Leadership Fort Smith Advisory Committee carefully reviewed applications and conducted in-person interviews before making the final class selection.
“We couldn’t be more excited to announce the JLA first class,” said Sam T. Sicard, president of the Chamber Board of Directors, and president of First National Bank of Fort Smith. “Each individual who took the time to apply, regardless of whether they were selected, shows that Fort Smith has a bright future in the hands of our students.”
Following are the students selected for the first class.
• Northside High School
• Southside High School