Journey comes to an end for Youth Leadership Weirton class

COMPLETE CLASS — Members of the Youth Leadership Weirton Class of 2018 celebrated the completion of the program with a graduation luncheon Sunday. The program is held each year by the Weirton Area Chamber of commerce, with support through a grant from ArcelorMittal USA. Thirty-four students from four area high schools participated this year. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — More than 30 area high school students have been spending the last several months learning the basics of leadership.

During a luncheon Sunday at the Holiday Inn the 34 sophomores celebrated the completion of their journey as the Youth Leadership Weirton Class of 2018.

The program, offered each year by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce and supported through a grant from ArcelorMittal USA, is offered to students from Weir, Oak Glen, Madonna and Brooke high schools, providing lessons in teamwork, ethics, communication, goal setting and more.

The students and their families were welcomed by Chamber President Brenda Mull, who explained Youth Leadership Weirton has been provided for approximately 20 years, encouraging students to learn more about themselves and take a greater role in their schools and communities.

“We take pride in working with students,” Mull said. “And if we are a role model for them in any way, or give them encouragement to be who they want to be, then we are successful.”

Graduating students were Taylor Allison, Addie Backel, Evan Boniti, Allyson Brothers, Kelsey Crawford, Andrea Dawson, Peri Dimitriou, Carly Dowiak, Autumn Duckworth, John Ewing, Jonathan Golden, Morgan Grant, Jaedyn Hissam, Maria Kamarados, Dylan Kolb, Ethan Littell, Ava Loch, Isabel Loch, Riley McAllister, Kennedy Martin, Emily Matteson, Gabrielle Mazzone, Lexus Melnyk, Rachel Miller, Brogan Moran, Caitlyn Munger, Abigail Myers, Devin Price, Peyton Price, Hannah Rogers, Autumn Shifflett, Chesney Warden, Mackenzie Waters and Matthew Wright.

“Each month, the students went through a different session to give them a taste of the business world and issues that they may face,” Mull said.

The year began with a teamwork session at the Elkhorn Valley Camp ropes course, followed by a True Colors exercise so students could learn more about personalities and character traits. Other sessions included Integrity, where students learned about ethics, Vision, wher the focus was on setting goals and working toward them, and concluding with SIMSOC.

During Sunday’s dinner, several of the students discussed their experiences and they lessons they will take with them as a result of participating in Youth Leadership Weirton.

“Your decisions affect others, even if you don’t realize it at first,” Carly Dowiak said.

John Ewing, paraphrasing a quote by Thomas Edison, discussed the importance of perseverance and working with others to reach a goal.

Others said they realized people do not think and act alike, and it is important to understand the views of those they encounter.

Carole Scheerbaum, WVU Extension agent for Hancock County, who led several of this year’s sessions, said those lessons are important in all areas of life.

“We have to not just think about our personality, but about how our personality affects others,” Scheerbaum said.

As part of completing the program, students received a class photo, a goodie bag and one college credit provided by West Virginia Northern Community College.

Participants for the program are selected through a blind application process with the chamber’s Education Committee. Applications include an essay, as well as information about school and extracurricular activities.

Recruitment for the program’s 2019 class will begin later this month.

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