The 23rd annual Rotary District 5810 Camp Rotary Youth Leadership Awards wrapped up in June 2013 by awarding two seniors from the Midlothian High School Interact Club with scholarships, and an opportunity to serve on the student advisory council. Senior Julia Frandsen-DeLoach and Cori Sylvester will represent MHS as they serve on the 2014 RYLA Student Advisory Council.

The clubs of District 5810 provided scholarships for more 180 high school students to participate in the six-day leadership camp. Thirty-four students out of 180 were selected to serve on the RYLA Student Advisory Council.

Midlothian Rotary Club member Kristin DeLoach said this is the first time in MHS Interact Club history for a member to receive this honor.

“To have two youth chosen from the approximately 2,300 student body of WHS selected for this honor is absolutely amazing,” DeLoach said. “And to be honored to come back and serve on the advisory council for next year is really special.”

Another part of the story that makes this honor especially unique for Frandsen-DeLoach is the fact that she is responsible for launching the MHS Interact Club. She serves as charter president and secretary of the local chapter, and started the organization as a way to reach out more to the Midlothian community.

“When I was a freshman, I knew I wanted to be involved in an organization that provided options and flexibility for me,” Frandsen-DeLoach said. “As I began researching local organizations, I found information about the Interact Club.”

Frandsen-DeLoach made it up in her mind that she would do whatever it took to get a local chapter started at her high school. She said she went around school telling all of her friends, who in turn told all of their friends and the club was born.

One of those friends happened to be Sylvester. Sylvester said she has been a member of the club since her sophomore year. She thought it would provide her a way to be more involved with her friends, but it has provided so much more.

“I just thought it would be a fun club and way to hang out more with my friends,” Sylvester said. “But it has opened up a lot doors for me to make a difference in the lives of the people in our community.”

As it relates to the scholarship and serving on the advisory council, Sylvester said she doesn’t consider it an honor, but a privilege.

“This is an amazing opportunity, and will give me great experience as I look to the future,” she said.

Both Frandsen-DeLoach and Sylvester said they’ve learned a lot about service through the club, but more than that, they’ve learned a great deal about themselves. Frandsen-DeLoach said since serving in the club, her communication skills have gotten sharper. Sylvester said she was never one to stand up and speak in front of a group of people, but serving as club services coordinator for the club, she has been forced to become a public speaker.

The Student Advisory Council has already started meeting in Dallas. Frandsen-DeLoach and Sylvester said they are really looking forward to having a greater impact on the community through this leadership opportunity.

Monica Arroyo, faculty advisor for the MHS Interact Club, said students like Frandsen-DeLoach and Sylvester are rare.

“They are always striving to help and give to others,” Arroyo said. “That’s what we’re about and they’ve gone above and beyond.”

Arroyo added that the selection of Frandsen-DeLoach and Sylvester for the advisory council is a huge honor for the community and club.

“They exemplify the leadership that we want to see in all of our students,” she said. “They are intelligent, hardworking and they will both do well as they move ahead with their futures.”

About RYLA

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is a leadership program coordinated by Rotary Clubs across the globe. Each year, thousands of young people participate in this program. Young people ages 14–30 are sponsored by Rotary Clubs to attend the event run by the club’s district committee. Participants are chosen for their leadership potential. Rotary Clubs and the Rotary District cover all expenses for the participants. The format of the event vary from district to district, but commonly take the form of a seminar, camp, or workshop to discuss leadership skills and to learn those skills through practice. Rotary clubs and districts select participants and facilitate the event’s curriculum.

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