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Program hopes to groom Northwest Indiana’s next generation of leaders

Molly Zakutansky Hobart High School participates is one many excercises thwere given Friday morning AvalMannor during first meeting og South

Molly Zakutansky of Hobart High School participates is one of the many excercises that were given Friday morning at the Avalon Mannor during the first meeting og the South Shore Leadership Youth for Community Engagment Program (SLYCE). | Dan Shelton/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 26, 2014 6:14AM



HOBART — Dedication. Motivation. Commitment.

These are just some of the traits that 60-some students from 27 high schools throughout Northwest Indiana determined Friday they will need to succeed in a yearlong program preparing them to become regional leaders and global thinkers.

The students named a number of traits in one of several exercises during the daylong opening session of the SLYCE program, which stands for South Shore Leadership Youth for Community Engagement. It was held at Avalon Manor.

Under the program, now in its second year, students will meet once a month through December, focusing on such topics as the environment and social justice while learning how to be a strong and connected leader.

Dana Yake, a spokeswoman for South Shore Leadership Center, said participating students were nominated by their schools, youth organization and Boys & Girls Clubs. Once nominated, the students then needed to apply for the program and go through an interview process.

“We’re looking for those students with real potential, those looking to get involved,” Yake said. “We want to stop the brain drain from the region. We want students to stay here for school, their job and to lead our region.”

Keith Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of South Shore Leadership Center in Valparaiso, told the students the world needs more good leaders.

“All the people in this room have the ability to soar like an eagle. I hope this program gives you the chance to take that leap,” Kirkpatrick said.

Thano Liodos, a junior at Crown Point High School, said he thought the first day of the program was a good experience.

“I’m able to meet people with common interests. I believe this will help throughout our lives,” said Liodos.

Claire LeMonnier, a sophomore at Munster High School, said she hopes to better understand what a leader is and to become one along the way.

“I want to be someone who can inspire people,” she said.

Dylan Brock, a senior at River Forest High School in Hobart, went through the SLYCE program last year and has already seen its benefits.

He said he announced he wanted to be elected governor at Hoosier Boys State, where about 500 male high school students learn about the political process.

He won.

“SLYCE gave me the incentive to do it. Before SLYCE, I lacked motivation. After SLYCE, I realized I could do something great if I had the incentive,” Brock said. “I know I should always at least try.”



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