SAIL Program helps develop local high schoolers into leaders

William Dearmon, President and CEO of Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (far right) joins representatives from Centric Credit Union along with the nine SAIL Participants in this year’s class.

Written by Emma Stone

SAIL (Students Actively Involved in Leadership) is an ongoing program started by the Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce a few years ago in hopes to help develop local high school juniors into strong leaders.

The SAIL participants must apply for the program on their own volition, but must also have an endorsement from one of their school’s teachers, counselors or principals stating they are engaged within their school and would be a good candidate for the program.

Will Dearmon, President and CEO of Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, held the first meeting for this year’s SAIL participants last Thursday at the Chamber. This is the seventh class of the SAIL program which began in 2017.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to engage themselves with the local community,” said Dearmon. “We are hoping community engagement can pour into these young folk.”

A total of nine students from Ruston High, Cedar Creek, Simsboro High and Choudrant High are participating in the nine-month program.

This year’s participants include Brianna Alexander (Ruston High), Holly Bennett (Choudrant High), LaJayden Drake (Simsboro High), Trenton Richard (Ruston High), Colton Smith (Choudrant High), Ren Stephens (Choudrant High), Carter Tims (Ruston High), Luke Waldron (Cedar Creek), and Wade Watson (Choudrant High).

Each month the SAIL program features a different theme. November was geared around “Media” and December will be about “Education.” In addition to some introductory segments in last week’s first session, the students toured the Ruston Daily Leader while also hearing from Malcolm Butler, co-publisher of the Lincoln Parish Journal.

“The program exposes them to economic drivers of the community,” said Dearmon. “For those thinking of post high school, this may help be the connector for post-secondary school.”

In December, the students will have a chance to tour Louisiana Tech University, Grambling State University, and Louisiana Delta College while hearing from a panel of representees from each college.

“My guidance counselor recommended the program to me, so I decided to apply,” said Richard. “I joined to learn more about money, budgeting, sponsorship and how to be an effective leader.”

Each meeting is held once a month from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and always starts with a financial literacy lesson taught by a representive from Centric Credit Union.

“I’m excited to build relationships with other high school students and learn from them,” said Richard.

If your Ruston-Lincoln business is interested in participating in this program, please contact the chamber office at (318) 255-2031.