Youth leaders complete journey

PROGRAM COMPLETED — Twenty-six area high school sophomores completed their journey of leadership Sunday with the graduation of this year’s class of Youth Leadership Weirton. The program, offered to students at four area high schools, is operated by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — The door to the path of leadership was opened for 26 area high school sophomores as this year’s Youth Leadership Weirton program came to a close.

The program, offered each year by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, brought together students from four area high schools, with a variety of sessions held since September to teach aspects of leadership and business.

On Sunday, the journey ended with a graduation luncheon at Undo’s in Weirton, giving the students a chance to look back on their experience and celebrate their achievements.

“You all became so united as a class,” Chamber President Brenda Mull said in congratulating the group. “As students, you should be proud of your accomplishments.”

Students completing the program this year were Andrea Alamario, Sabrina Alatis, Alexandra Backel, Conner Blake, Rachel Boniti, Brett Brown, Joshua Caswell, Eric Chartier, Rebecca Conaway, Mickayla Cook, Gavin Dietrich, Emily Donley, Chad Durante, Elle Greco, Aiden Hall, Enrique Herrera, Philip Hinerman, Garet Hostuttler, Michaela Mahan, George Makricostas, Chloe Molish, Abigail Nickerson, Kennedy Quinlan, Lonni Riggs, Gabriella Staffileno and Graci Tice.

Participating schools include Weir High, Brooke High, Weirton Madonna High and Oak Glen High. Up to 30 students are selected for the program each year, with candidates considered through a blind application process including an essay.

The program began with a trip to the Elkhorn Valley Camp in Bergholz, where students learned about teamwork through a ropes and obstacles course.

“When you get into the business world, teamwork is what it’s all about,” Mull noted.

Other sessions included lessons on ethics, setting and working toward goals, personalities and a simulated society exercise.

“It’s challenging, and it definitely makes you think,” Mull said.

Youth Leadership Weirton has been offered by the chamber for almost 20 years, with recruitment for the 2017-2018 class set to begin in April. Support for the program is provided through a grant from ArcelorMittal Steel.

(Howell can be contacted at, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)