Students thank Rotary for opportunity

ELKINS – Five Elkins High School students had the opportunity to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards weekend at Jackson’s Mill in April, and three of those participants attended Monday’s Elkins Rotary Club meeting to thank Rotary members for the opportunity.

Ninth-graders selected to participate in the program included Jacob Earle, Brendan Wallace, Keaton Cooper, Kyatt Bailey and Camryn Zirbs.

Elkins Rotary member Pat Schoonover said the Rotary District provides five Rotary Youth Leadership Awards every April.

“This is to help ninth-graders become better leaders in high school and gives them the opportunity to see what we do in Rotary and meet the exchange students we are sponsoring this year,” Schoonover said.

Earle said he really enjoyed the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards weekend.

“My favorite part of RYLA came on Saturday when we did the Stop Hunger Now World Food Program,” Earle said. “Our goal was to bag rice to send to Africa and other countries. We bagged 10,000 bags of rice in two hours – I was unsure we could do it, but (we) accomplished the task through teamwork.”

Earle thanked Rotary members for sponsoring him to attend the weekend.

Wallace said RYLA was a life-changing weekend for him, and thanked the club for making the experience possible.

“It was a great experience,” Wallace said. “What really made the weekend great for me was the kids. There were folks there from the region including Clarksburg and Grafton – they were outstanding kids. They are getting to events, playing sports and getting into all kinds of programs and are some of the best kids in the state.”

Cooper also expressed his gratitude for being able to attend RYLA.

“My favorite part of the week was an exercise in saving folks in a cave-in,” Cooper said. “It was interesting to see other kids picked to save.”

Cooper said the students at the event made it special.

“They were not judgmental,” Cooper said. “They did not care who you were, what you were or where you came from. They just wanted to make sure everyone had fun. It was amazing how you could bond with others in just three short days.”