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Students share RYLA Leadership Retreat experiences

Rotary Club of Tehachapi


From left to right: Judy Trujillo, Kyler Sparling, Bettie Howard, Aneri Mistry, Ava Wiehn, Eric Swanson, Annabelle Werner, Preston Coontz and Nena Thornburg.

On June 6, the Rotary Club of Tehachapi welcomed students from the local Interact Clubs to share their experiences attending RYLA, a Rotary-sponsored leadership retreat for high school students.

RYLA was held from April 12-15 in Ojai, California. Over 230 students from Rotary District 5240 were in attendance. Rotarian Judy Trujillo works with advisors from both Tehachapi High School and Valley Oaks Charter School to support the local Interact Club at each school, as well as attending the RYLA retreat with the local students.

Rotary's goals for the RYLA leadership retreat are to provide an effective training experience, support student leadership and encourage participants to make a difference in their communities through volunteer work and social responsibility. A total of eight students, four from THS and four from Valley Oaks, were able to go to RYLA this year, fully sponsored by the local Rotary Club.

The students individually spoke about their experience at RYLA, and what they learned/gained through their participation. One student said, "RYLA was a place where I could gain perspective, especially in honoring diversity and finding commonalities at a human level." They discussed how they enjoyed meeting students from other schools, and that the participants all shared a willingness to connect with people they did not know. They talked about learning teambuilding, working together, friendship and trust through various activities, but especially through the ropes course.

The students also said the keynote speakers were engaging, especially Jim Brogan, who spoke on "10 Steps to Success for Teens." They came away feeling inspired by the speakers, hearing how they overcame challenges and adversity in their lives.

Nina Thornberg, Interact advisor and science teacher at Valley Oaks Charter School, said, "RYLA is a life-changing experience, even for the adults who attend." She expressed her thanks to the Rotary Club for sending the students to RYLA.

The Tehachapi Rotary Club meets at noon every Thursday at Kelcy's Restaurant. Rotary is committed to "Service Above Self," and devotes time and resources to projects in the local community, scholarships for college-bound high school seniors, and supporting global efforts for polio eradication. For more information about the Rotary Club, you can visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Rotary/ClubofTehachapi/.