Teen leaders learn about the city

June 26, 2019

HIGH POINT — A campus scavenger hunt at High Point University on Tuesday was symbolic as the first participants in a Teen Leadership High Point program began learning more about the community they call home.

YMCA of High Point is partnering with High Point Chamber of Commerce this summer to offer the six-week program on Tuesday mornings through Aug. 6. One of the many goals of the program is to instill a sense of ownership in the community.

Cyril Jefferson, chairman of Teen Leadership High Point and a board member of Carl Chavis Memorial Branch YMCA, welcomed the teens and explained that participating in the adult Leadership High Point program allowed him to see and experience things he hadn’t before.

“I actually appreciated learning about this beautiful city that I call home,” he said.

Nigel Alston, executive director of the N.C. Black Repertory Co. and a former Winston-Salem State University administrator, led a Dale Carnegie-style training exercise to help the teens remember each other’s names and pronounce those names correctly. A person’s name is important to that person and it makes them feel important when someone else is able to recall it, Alston said. He advised the teens to ask a person to repeat their name to clarify pronunciation and to continue to repeat the name multiple times in the process of meeting them.

Demetri Logan, 17, a junior at T.W. Andrews High School, said he hoped to make friends through the Teen Leadership High Point program as well as to gain more knowledge about High Point.

Kyndahl Stubbs, 16, said she hoped to gain more exposure to colleges and meet more people who work for them. She plans to attend the Early College at A&T.

“As far as the scavenger hunt, I think it was helpful because even if you don’t know the campus, it lets you get a feel for the kind of buildings you’re going to see,” Stubbs said. “I feel like all the pressure was on our tour guide because he’s the only one who knew where all the stuff was. It was fun and it kind of gets you excited for college.”

Zakyia Barnes, 13, said she at first was reluctant to participate but enjoyed the scavenger hunt. “I don’t want to go here, but I came here and had a lot of fun,” Barnes said. The Welborn Academy student hopes to get to know more teenagers through the program.

The YMCA’s free summer teen membership program last year drew nearly 300 members who are 13 to 17 years old. The program later became a year-round free membership and now has well over 300 teenage members, said Darryl Burrus, YMCA counselor and director of teen membership.

“When we took them to a few college visits, we broadened their horizons,” he said.

His wife Stacy Burrus, who assists him in directing the Hartley Family YMCA, said the teen program is empowering young people and helping them make better decisions about their futures.

“It was such a success and we had so many teens from diverse backgrounds, we wanted to expose them to their city,” she said.

Ariana Herndon takes a group selfie with Jaela Betha, left, Christania Stricklin and Alaja Desouza-Finch as they pose for a photo with a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the campus of High Point University on Tuesday. The group was taking part in a team scavenger hunt. Photo by Laura Greene, HPE