A new club at Lady's Island Middle School will encourage students to explore their community while picking up leadership skills.
The club, Junior Leadership Lady's Island, offers 15 eighth-graders a chance to tour local landmarks and centers of health care, tourism or government. They might visit the Penn Center or Beaufort Memorial Hospital, for example, principal Mona Lise Dickson said.
Then, they'll visit the leaders of those organizations.
"I feel that it will be something great for them -- to explore what it takes to become leaders and to know what leadership is all about," Dickson said. "A lot of times, being a leader is not about being popular. ... We want them to know about the tough choices that a leader has to make."
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The club is sponsored by the Lady's Island Professional Business Association, which donated $500 to the program. That money will help pay for students' lunches on their full-day and half-day field trips that begin in November.
Association board members might also attend some of the field trips.
Pat Harvey-Palmer, association treasurer, said a group of parents approached the association and pitched the idea for the club, which is modeled on leadership programs offered by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.
"Hands-on is always so much more important than reading about it in a magazine or book," Harvey-Palmer said.
Students interested in the program have to meet several requirements to join. They must have at least a 3.0 grade average. They can't have been referred to the principal's office for bad behavior in the past two years.
About 60 eighth-graders meet those requirements, and 15 will be picked before the group takes its first trip next month, Dickson said.
Dickson said students also must show leadership potential, since the program is aimed at sharpening those skills and turning them into ambassadors for the school.
Near the end of the school year, students will deliver a presentation to the Lady's Island Professional Business Association. Harvey-Palmer said she hopes the presentation will be given at a regular meeting so members can see the students' work.
"I personally am hoping if this is a real big success that more local businesses might see to it that more students will be able to participate in the program," she said.
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.