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Leadership kicks off next youth class

Callie Nelson, Leadership Selma-Dallas County interim director, talks to the members of Youth Leadership Class XVIII and their parents Thursday. (Jay Sowers |Times-Journal)

Callie Nelson, Leadership Selma-Dallas County interim director, talks to the members of Youth Leadership Class XVIII and their parents Thursday. (Jay Sowers |Times-Journal)

Members of the Youth Leadership Selma-Dallas County Class XVIII gathered together for the first time Thursday evening, and it was all about getting to know each other.

This year’s class, which includes 27 participants, includes students from all seven high schools located within Dallas County and even some who are homeschooled.

“We want to bring these kids together from the different schools and teach them how to work together as one cohesive unit,” said Callie Nelson, interim director of Selma-Dallas County. “Between now and May, they will learn about health and human services, economic development, education, financial literacy and how to get into college.”

The Youth Leadership program is funded by Leadership Selma-Dallas County, which also hosts an annual class for adults in the community.

Dallas County High School junior Caleb McDougal said he is looking forward to learning about the community he calls home over the coming months.

“Selma is a community in need,” McDougal said. “Selma is where I was brought up, so instead of being one of those people who can’t wait to leave town, I want to stay and give back.”

McDougal said having students from all across the region would be a strength for the class.

“If you just get kids from one school, they’ll only be worried about making that one part of town better, and this way we can all work together to make the entire county better,” McDougal said.

The class will meet the third Tuesday of each month between now and then, and all the members will take part in a two-day retreat this weekend at the 4H Center in Columbiana.

Nelson said the students have to take advantage of the opportunity to get to know each other and make their community stronger.

“You can make Selma as good or as bad as you want it to be,” Nelson told the students. “We really encourage you to look at Selma and Dallas County and think about what things you would like to see changed, and how you can make that happen.”