Youth Leadership Students Learn About The Past
BY TAYLOR JEDRZEJEK, Record & Landmark 3.25.2021
Over the past year, the pandemic has forced many changes in all walks of life. For one of Iredell-Statesville Schools’ most selective student groups, it was no different. Since September, the Youth Leadership of Iredell County has been meeting in a socially-distant fashion at the Unity Center in Statesville, having the leaders of Statesville visit them.
On Wednesday, that finally changed as the Youth Leadership group met in Downtown Statesville for a walking tour led by local historian Dr. Steve Hill for their first function outside of the Unity Center of the entire school year.
“I’ve really enjoyed this today because I don’t like being cooped up or sitting in one place for long periods of time,” Ryan Burns said. “So being able to get out, walk around and visit these places has been enjoyable.”
The members of the Youth Leadership group met under the overhang of the Historic Vance Hotel before leaving on their tour of the downtown area that included many of the stories and songs that Hill shared with those who join him on the ‘Statesville After Dark’ tours in the fall.
After a quick stop in City Hall to hear some of the city’s ghost stories, as told by Nancy Davis, they traveled to Fort Dobbs where they were given a tour of the grounds. Once the musket smoke cleared, they headed back to town to tour the Statesville Historical Collection as well as the Iredell Museum and Arts Council.
“Any time you can show (the students) what you’re talking about, it’s more impactful,” Shannon Viera, president of the Statesville Chamber of Commerce, said. “Everyone I’ve talked to has said that they’ve learned something and that’s what we want, for them to take away some pride in the community that they live in.”
Every year, I-SS, which partners with the Statesville Chamber of Commerce, sends out invitations to join the Youth Leadership to those in the top 25 percent of their high school class at North Iredell, South Iredell, West Iredell, Statesville and Crossroads Arts and Science Early College.
On average, they receive around 200 applications and, through the process of essay submission and interviews, the group is whittled down to 40-45 participants that meet monthly to discuss topics such as art, history, culture, economic development, health and wellness, judicial and criminal systems, government operations and stewardship.
Roughly 25 students joined the walking tour Wednesday, with the rest joining in via Zoom.
“Doing this has allowed me to see the growth potential of Statesville,” Natalie Bridgeman said. “We get to see where we’ve come from and that shows us where we could grow to. I think it’s really nice.”
The Youth Leadership group will meet for the final time this school year next month before a new group is ushered in come September.