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#1StudentNWI: Leadership takes the Streets of Valpo with Colors of the Region


There are a lot of options when it comes to getting active in the community. This goes double for Valpo, in which our schools offer hundreds of chances to make an impact upon the city around you. The majority of our clubs at Valpo High deal with doing something positive for the town and promoting a positive influence on the people within it. That is one of the amazing things about the students at our school; their drive to make Valpo a positive and progressive place to live and grow is never ending.

Every year, new clubs are formed in this pursuit, and every year they accomplish their goal. Clubs like UNICEF and INTERACT are supported through or extensions of existing organizations, and therefore have a wider reach and more influence on what happens on their end. Other groups like SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) or STAND Diversity Club are one hundred percent driven on student and school energy, feeding off of our students drive to better the environment that we not only attend school in but also where we live. Various other clubs are not as driven to make a difference, but offer students chances to find people with similar interest and make them feel at home in their school. Clubs like LoL (League of Legends) or Gaming Club help to alleviate some of those stresses that come with high school.

Outside of the walls of High Schools alone, many more opportunities lie to truly affect the city around us.Volunteer organizations, such as Opportunity Enterprises, are homegrown efforts that bring work to people who normally couldn’t get it and put all of that energy into a positive output. There are even clubs and organizations specifically aimed at students who are looking to get involved outside of school. One such group is the South Shore Leadership Center, a local team based out of Portage whose goals are simple; provide students with opportunities for networking and to better improve their community. They were founded in the late 90’s, and have continued to have an influence on the positivity in the region into the current day. SSLC offers a multitude of different options for people who live in the Northwest Indiana region involved and knowledgeable about what their community could benefit from.

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Rylee Briel, a senior at Valpo High School, is one of the students who saw the value in joining their ranks. In pursuit of not only benefiting herself in the long run, her and the other students joined to help promote tolerance in our community.

“I believe our community could benefit most from the lessons that our group share about all the great resources,businesses and geographical features the Region has to offer”, Briel said.

“I am involved with Key Club, 4-H, and Junior Leaders, which is another club through 4-H. Each of these organizations make community involvement and volunteering a priority to help preserve the earth that we have been gifted with.”

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The South Shore Leadership for Youth and Community Engagement (SLYCE) is a recent endeavor by the group to really get young adults involved in what is happening around them.

Briel is a part of the SLYCE team, fitting well with her leadership qualities and drive to benefit the community.

“I joined SLYCE because I saw an opportunity to learn things that none of the other leadership programs I’ve been involved in have offered. SLYCE made a point of giving us first hand knowledge about the great things NWI has to offer and how we can continue to impact the Region with our fellow classmates.”

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On Friday, June 30th, SLYCE held the Colors of the Region benefit concert on the Central Park Plaza in downtown Valpo to help spread their main goals and get local teenagers out to attend. The main goals of SLYCE are to promote diversity and tolerance throughout the nine county region and help start a new leaf with this generation of young people. Students come to understand regional issues and assets and work collaboratively to propose and recommend action for regional leaders to review and potentially utilize in the future. Teenagers should feel like their unique qualities and differences are not matters to be ashamed of, but celebrate the things that make all of us different. Maintaining that individuality and self pride is important, but even more important for young people who are going through times in their lives where so many voices are shouting out at them.

The Colors of the Region was an effort to push these ideals and offer insight through local music and motivational speakers and do so in a way that was engaging and fun for any in attendance. All proceeds from the event went to the Steel City Academy out of Gary, Indiana, whose goal is to empower Gary students with cultural fluency and rigorous academic skills. The event hosted local bands and food, and ran from 5- 10pm. The downtown area of Valpo was bustling with people on Friday night, stopping by to listen in to what was going on and to share in the experience for a moment.

The event was packed with a variety of things to do, from the food and booths around the square, to the main entertainment of the stage. Local bands Counter Theory, Leave it to Chance, and Pressure all played short sets at the event, and were supported by motivational speakers Ken Berry and Lane Linder. The Steel City Academy of Dance even had a bout on the stage as representatives of where all the proceeds were going. Overall, the event was a wholesome and engaging effort to provide an opportunity for local teens to feel at home and accepted.

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“I feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be a part of such an informational and engaging program such as SLYCE.” said Briel.

“As I continue on with my passion as a servant leader, I will be looking to organize youth-oriented events that attract young people to see the beauty of the Region and give them reasons to further appreciate the opportunities they’ve been provided with.”

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