Next class of River Rouge High School student leaders complete program


The men in the Leadership Program posing before the Ball at the Bentley in Wyandotte

The River Rouge Leadership Program celebrated its sixth year of building new leaders. On Saturday, April 27, 2019 this year's program ended with the much anticipated Cotillion and Beautillion Ball. The highlight of the program for the students, their parents and the community, the Ball gives the students a chance to come out in royal style. This year's ball was held at the Bentley in Wyandotte.

The River Rouge Leadership Program began in 2013 as a vision of Nicole McKinney, community liaison with United Way. Ms. McKinney's vision was to expose inner city youth to a variety of professional and cultural experiences that would inspire them and expand their expectations for their futures. The ball, which is common in more affluent communities, marks the completion of a rigorous program and is a way to celebrate students as they are introduced into society. We are gracious that she provided us with the blueprint and inspiration so that we can continue providing our students with this wonderful opportunity.

The River Rouge Leadership Program is semblance of celebration, which recognizes student achievement, while also providing programing that helps to foster personal and career development for students. This is the 6th year for the program and it continues to grow and improve. The program is designed to build future leaders through various life skills topics, such as career exploration, strengths assessments, art and culture, team projects, community service, and more. Students in the Leadership Program met weekly over a three-month period during and after school. Students meet a strict attendance and academic requirements to become and stay eligible in the program.

Every participant pays a thirty-dollar ($30.00) "Buy-In" fee. Leadership Advisor, Randi Williams says, "This fee is a way that the student shows his or her commitment to the program. This is the only financial contribution our students provide to this program." The program is fully supported through fundraising efforts, donations, ticket sales, and volunteer support. This wonderful support offsets the cost of gowns, tuxedo rental, accessories, as well as feeding healthy young men and women during the sessions.

The young ladies pose with their white evening dresses as they prepare for their evening of elegance

This year they worked on public speaking using the Toast Master public speaking format. They spent time volunteering at Crossroads of Michigan working in their clothing closet and at the Veteran's Hospital Detroit assisting the Veterans' with getting to appointments within the hospital. Leadership Advisor LaTasha Johnson, said, "Both of these experiences were eye opening and provided our students the chance to ignite a spirit of giving back and see the great services provided to those in need within their community."

Plans are already underway to improve the program for next year.

For more information on the program or to make a donation, contact please contact LaTasha Johnson at [email protected] or Randi Williams at [email protected].


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