Launching Success! YLSS is based on Leadership Sandy Springs’ successful model of developing community leaders.
From speeches given by three YLSS Alumni (Class of 2022) to the new Class of 2023 at Opening Night on August 24, 2022.
This program gave me the opportunity to meet the people who make huge decisions for Sandy Springs, whether we, the people, know about them or not. Meeting Jody Reichel, the first woman on the Sandy Springs City Council, taught me that leaders don’t wait for others to act; they identify problems and solve them.
All of you will have so many eye-opening moments through the course of this program. For some that might mean, meeting and becoming great friends with someone who lives two streets over but just happens to go to a different high school, for others it will mean growing confident in your public speaking skills, and for those like me, it will mean knowing your city a little bit better every day.
Interviewing is such an important skill, and since (YLSS Interview Day) I’ve actually had a few job interviews and I’m proud to say that I received offers from every single position I interviewed for. And all that was from just one YLSS day. There are so many other opportunities from this program, and I feel so lucky to have had them, because it’s really had an impact on the way I think about our city and shaped me into becoming a better leader.
Youth Leadership Sandy Springs (YLSS) began as a project of the 2010 Leadership Sandy Springs class, who felt offering a program on community leadership is an important step in building the next generation.
YLSS accepted its first class of 20 students in 2011-12 from five area high schools. Since then, classes have grown to nearly 40 students annually representing students from all the area high schools including Riverwood, North Springs, Mount. Vernon, Holy Spirit, Holy Innocents, Galloway, Weber, Marist and The Atlanta Girls School.
The 2020-2021 class year was cancelled due to the pandemic and accepted students were invited to join the class of 2022, thus YLSS began its 10th year in September 2021.
The earlier we connect with emerging leaders, the more we can instill a sense of civic responsibility and pride. Because of Leadership Sandy Springs, we have hundreds of people who are much more connected to and knowledgeable about our city. It’s part of the strength of Sandy Springs. As we do this with our youth at this very important turning point in their fives, we hope they, too, will join that group of very responsible and engaged citizens.
The focus of YLSS is not the one year you are in the program, rather it is what you do in the years that follow. As future leaders and community members it is our responsibility to use what we have learned to make a difference.
We have got to involve ourselves in the best of what our great city has to offer. We learned about every aspect of our community but the most valuable thing that I personally learned, is that every person can make a difference. From the judges, police and fire, to our librarians, government leaders all play a vital role that keeps this dynamic city moving. What they all have in common is knowledge. Through the past year, every one of us gained an inordinate amount of knowledge, because if you want to be an effective community leader, you need knowledge. That is the one detail I never associated with a leader. Sure, a leader needs to be confident, has to have good speaking skills, but knowledge, that is the most important of all. And because of that, Youth Leadership Sandy Springs gave each and every one of us the tools we need to become leaders and productive citizens.
Because of YLSS, I have the knowledge and courage to actively work towards positive change in my school and my community.
YLSS opened so many doors. It not only inspired me but taught me I could be a leader, giving me confidence that I could be successful in areas I hadn’t considered before.