Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing

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Leadership Johnson County (LJC) is an adult leadership class that’s coordinated through Franklin College. To celebrate the 25th year of the program, they are launching a youth academy called the Leadership Johnson County Youth Leadership Academy.

“This academy will be great for Franklin College as well as Johnson County,” says Amy Kelsay, LJC’s Program Coordinator. Though staff is currently working out the logistics regarding curriculum and class size, their goal is to invite 25-30 participants in total — three to five students from each of the six Johnson County public school corporations as well as five to eight students from private and homeschool.

The 4-page application process is fairly simple and does not require an interview of any sort. Students need to only answer a few questions and supply a letter of recommendation. Applications will go out on February 1 and must be submitted by March 15. The selection committee will then meet in April to choose students, chosen students will be notified in May and classes will begin in August.

According to Kelsay, students who are selected to participate in the program can expect to gain more self-awareness and enhance their own leadership skills. They will also become more adept at emotional intelligence, networking, empathy, accountability and inclusion.

“We want them to develop a better understanding of the local community,” Kelsay says. “They’ll also practice some project management skills and will work on a group project as an entire class.”

In addition, she notes that participants may have the opportunity to serve their community in other ways outside of class time as well as attend community events.

The program kicks off in August with an all-day opening retreat. After that, classes will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on five different days throughout the school year. Classes will meet on Tuesdays in September, November, February and April, each with its own theme. September will focus on Communication. November will be History & Governance. February will be Planning & Project Management. April will be Diversity & Inclusion. Students are invited to a graduation celebration at the end of April.

The $400 program is open to juniors and seniors, which means that current sophomore and juniors are eligible to apply. Scholarships are available.

“At this point, we just want to get the word out about this exciting new program so we’ll be alerting schools, corporations, counselors, principals and teachers so that they may pass it on to students,” says Kelsay, who notes that students will greatly benefit by building a network across the county.

“Many times when they are involved with other schools, it’s with sports and they are competing against one another,” Kelsay says. “This is an opportunity where students can work together and certainly build that network all across Johnson County — not only with students but also with adults as every program day we’ll be bringing in outside sources from Johnson County, including professors and members of civic and nonprofit organizations.”

All classes will be held on the campus of Franklin College. Students will receive one hour of college credit from Franklin College as well as a graduation certificate.

“Johnson County is really diverse and has much to offer,” Kelsay adds. “So often we get tied up into our little circles. This program will help the students branch out and see their community is bigger than Whiteland, Greenwood, Center Grove.”

Leadership Johnson County is located at 101 Branigin Boulevard in Franklin. You can visit them online at leadershipjohnsoncounty.org for more information. To learn more about the LJC Youth Leadership Academy, contact Amy Kelsay at arkelsay@gmail.com.

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