From July 12-16, LEAD Hampton Roads held its second annual eXcel program,a youth leadership development and community education program created as a response to our region’s loss of gifted young professionals. Modeled after LEAD Hampton Roads, the business leadership program of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, eXcel brings similar experiences and training to our region’s youth in an effort to: inspire them to lead; provide development tools, opportunities and experiences; introduce them to the rich diversity and opportunity of our region; and assist them in creating a vision of themselves as the future leaders of Hampton Roads. eXcel places students in a network of regional youth and adult leaders which will form a basis for their future success in the college and working world.
Nineteen rising high school juniors and seniors took part in the five-day program and participated in an intensive curriculum which included team-building exercises, conflict resolution models and dialogue with community leaders. Students went behind-the-scenes and spoke with leaders at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, Cox Communications, Harbor Park, the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk International Terminals, the Chesapeake Arboretum, Chesapeake City Council, and aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
Norview High School student La’Shay Lucas, 16, of Norfolk, said, “Through this program, I got to know myself and why I make certain decisions. I found out what type of people I work best with and discovered I’m a leader.”
“I enjoyed going aboard the USS George H. W. Bush and the Chrysler Museum of Art,” said 16-year-old Paul Wotring Jr., who attends Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake. “I learned organizational skills from the Navy leadership who spoke to us and how to improve working environments. Throughout the week, I have learned leadership skills.”
Fifteen-year-old Iyana Pointer from Norview High School said, “The best part of this week for me was meeting new people.” She added, “It’s important to keep in touch with contacts you make.”
Justin Byrd, 16, who attends Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, said, “The program helped me know myself better and understand how I work with others.” When asked where he liked visiting the most, Byrd said, “ I liked the art at the Chrysler Museum.”
The last time 14-year-old Andolyn Medina of Chesapeake was on an aircraft carrier, she was too young to remember. Her parents are both in the Navy and Medina said, “I have a better understanding now. I liked seeing how the carrier was organized and speaking with its leadership.”
Participants received completion certificates at a ceremony held on July 16 at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. During the event, Maurice Jones, publisher of the Virginian-Pilot spoke to the students about leadership and the Hampton Roads region. At the conclusion, the participants agreed that they can take what they learned during eXcel and apply it to their school work and personal lives.