VHS student shares RYLA experience

Published 9:49 am Thursday, May 11, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Verbena High School student Ja’starza (T.J.) White was the guest speaker for the Chilton County Rotary Club’s meeting on May 10.

White had been selected by the club to attend the district Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event this year.

White said he enjoyed the team-building activities.

“We had to listen to each other to get anything done,” White said.

During one activity, leaders were selected for the rest of the blindfolded group to listen to for directions in completing the goal.

There were also activities focused on life after high school.

“We learned about business finance, college searching, effective leadership skills and how to speak effectively,” White said.

These speaking skills were in use during White’s presentation as he maintained eye contact with the Rotarians.

Another RYLA presentation interesting to White was one on table etiquette. White said the presentation emphasized taking steps to ensure conversation, not eating, was the main focus at events.

During the RYLA event, White stayed in a cabin with 11 other participants. About 75 to 80 students attended the event.

“I think that was a good size to get to know each other better,” White said.

Many of the students were from InterAct clubs, a Rotary high school club.

“It is important that we hear what your experience was. We do this every year,” Rotarian Gordon Swenson told White.

Swenson emphasized the long-term benefits that participating in RYLA could have for White.

“Being a RYLA participant can be used as networking for different Rotarian groups,” Swenson said.

He said this networking could help White when he starts his career.

“Don’t forget when you get your resume to put RYLA participant on there,” Swenson said.

This summer White will be working at Penton Farms. White said he wanted to learn more about what is grown there.

After graduation, White plans to attend Jefferson State Community College or the University of Montevallo. He wants to complete a master’s degree in secondary math in order to be a high school math teacher.