On Nov. 26, 2013, Boardman High School students switched gears from the "Just Say No" campaign to the "Yes Fest." The day-long program brought in guest speakers and a message that there are positive things students can do, or say yes to, with their lives.
At the Yes Fest, BHS Principal Jared Cardillo said, "We've been saying no forever. Now it's time to take it to the next level and tell students what they can say yes to."
While the Yes Fest was a big success and hundreds of students signed up to volunteer for a wide variety of non-profit work, there was still the issue of how to keep the ball rolling. In January, BHS guidance counselor Anne Bott came up with a good program to do just that. It is called "Emerging Leaders." Yes Fest guest speakers Dave Kohout from "Talk is Cheap" and Greg Smith both agreed to continue to serve the Boardman students in this program.
Photo from Town Crier archives
Wearing their Yes Fest T-shirts are David Kohout from 'Talk is Cheap' and Boardman High School Principal Jared Cardillo during the big event of Nov. 26, 2013. Out of that first-ever program was born a new program at BHS called Emerging Leaders.
Emerging Leaders features leadership classes hosted by Kohout and Smith. It also features volunteer weekends where students can put in volunteer hours for local charities.
Bott said two of the five volunteer Saturdays have already been scheduled. She along with other BHS staff will volunteer their time to oversee the students.
One of the sessions will have students serving a local animal shelter and another has been arranged for students to work the St. Elizabeth Hospital men's health program. Bott said the remaining weekends will be scheduled to give opportunities for those involved in the program.
"Both Dave and Greg are volunteering their time for the program, and so are the students," Bott said. "We held our first meeting recently and had 180 kids show up."
In May, those who stay the course will be recognized at an awards ceremony. Those who attend at least four of the five leadership classes and put in at least 40 hours of volunteer service will be given the Award with Distinction honors. Those with three of five classes and 20-plus hours will be given the Award with Honors.
In a flyer Bott sent out to the students about the program, she wrote, "Many times in your life you have heard your parents, teachers, and coaches ask you to step up and be a leader. The problem is we don't always understand how or what we are supposed to do."
The Emerging Leaders program will serve as a guide for students to give them a road to travel. It will give students opportunities in their lives that they can say yes to.