Summertime is Youth Leadership Time in Indianapolis

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National News    Summertime means leadership development, fun and learning — if you have the good fortune to be a teenager in the near-Westside of Indianapolis, where the award winning George Washington Community High School (GWCHS) runs an innovative summer leadership program known as the Hub Club.

In 2008 GWCHS was awarded one of ten $2.4 million, five-year grants from the U.S. Department of Education, to become a full-service community school. The funding expands out-of-school-time, parent engagement and community programs in addition to providing needed services to help students and families secure essential conditions for learning. The school has an enrollment of about 800 during the regular year and provides athletics, tutoring and leadership opportunities for 200 middle and high school students during the summer.

According to Tamika Riggs, Learning Center Manager, the Hub Club offers a unique combination of academic assistance, professional experience, self development and leadership skills, in a safe and engaging environment. “Students learn about personal reflection, get to listen to guest speakers, participate in teambuilding activities and work on real-life projects to strengthen their work ethic. They have really banded together in creating a program that exposes them to unique opportunities in the hopes to achieve a better life for themselves and their community.”

The eight-week leadership program is open to current 9th to 12th graders of GWCHS. In order to qualify, students must complete a job application, participate in an interview process and adhere to a behavior and attendance policy designed to introduce them to real-world workplace protocols. The group meets Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Students are divided into five teams that focus on different areas related to planning and managing Hub programming, including marketing, interior design, operations, organizational issues and incentive teams. On Thursdays, they visit colleges throughout the state to learn about post-secondary education opportunities and on Fridays each team delivers a formal presentation to peers, community members and staff covering the topic of the week. They also work in teams to create a business plan for the Hub, an umbrella under which all out-of-school-time programs at GWCHS fall.

The weekly themes include:

Week 1: Self assessment and working in teams
Week 2: Introduction to business planning and business etiquette
Week 3: 1st section of business plan; vision/mission statement
Week 4: Marketing and advertising plans
Week 5: Budgeting, finance, fundraising and donations
Week 6: Day-to-day operations and structure; a day in the life of the Hub
Week 7: Work on final project and presentation
Week 8: Final presentations, reviews, debriefing and celebration

Following are the vision and mission statements developed by the students during the Club’s third week:

“Mission: We the Hub Club provide academic assistance, community involvement opportunities, and enriching activities in a fun, safe, respectful environment for the George Washington Community. We strive to build better character, improve our community and develop qualities needed for success.

"Vision: Five years from now, the Hub Club will be a paramount after-school program that will increase graduation rates, post-secondary enrollment and improve the quality of life in the community by staying focused on our mission."

Besides getting to participate in this enriching experience, students receive $500 in gift certificates and other perks such as bus and amusement park passes. In order to receive the full amount of the stipend, participants must maintain a good record of attendance and behavior.

Incoming junior Elizabeth Pettis summarizes the participants’ impressions: “The Hub Club has affected me in many ways. First it has helped me focus on team work and I’ve learned that there’s no “I” in “team.” It has also helped me mentally because I learned to think positively no matter what the situation may be. Most of all, this experience made me realize that I want to be a successful person and what are the steps needed to make that a reality. Each day I learn a new skill that further propels me toward my goal. Not only do I think of my team as co-workers but I consider them my friends.”