Each year, the Vandalia Rotary Club selects two Vandalia High School sophomores to receive the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) to attend the weekend RYLA Camp and participate in the leadership and outdoors adventure team-building program.
The RYLA sophomore weekend is the first part of a three-year Rotary youth leadership program. RYLA winners will be invited to return for additional leadership training in their junior and senior years.
The focus of the program is to inspire students who show leadership potential to learn what characteristics and skills are needed as leaders, not only to compete in their high school years, but on through college and into their adult life.
RYLA weekends consist of group meetings and breakout sessions led by distinguished business representatives and educators, covering topics on leadership, public speaking and parliamentary procedures. There will also be team challenges designed to provide opportunities for each team to work to solve problems, make decisions together, enhance communication, overcome obstacles and build trust among each other.
The selection process includes an initial selection of a pool of six to eight candidates made by a Vandalia Community High School committee of teachers, counselors and administrators.
The candidates are not selected based on their grade-point averages, but on the committee’s perception of their leadership potential. It is not necessary that they already have begun to take leadership roles in their school career. Rotary is specifically looking for students that the committee “sees something in them,” so that a little more training and encouragement could make the difference in drawing out those leadership characteristics.
After the initial selection, each candidate will be interviewed by the Vandalia Rotary Club's RYLA committee. While the student remains the focus of the interview process, their parents are encouraged to participate, too. The final selection of the two awardees is made after the interviews. All expenses for the program are paid by the Vandalia Rotary Club, with an additional stipend given for personal expenses during RYLA.
Upon completion of the RYLA weekend, each student is expected to make a presentation to the Rotary Club to describe their experience and tell what they gained from it.
The Rotary Youth Leadership Award program was begun in 1997.
The Vandalia Rotary Club is part of Rotary International, which is widely acknowledged to be the world’s oldest service organization.
Locally, the Rotary Club sponsors the regular Red Cross blood drives, supports deserving community projects, hosts a special needs children’s Christmas party each year, and brings Santa to town in the Christmas parade.