When Jackie Gray asked me to lead a session at the annual Miami County Youth Leadership Summit in 2009, I gladly accepted. For me, it was an honor.
The young people who attended my two (repeat) 40-minute presentations liked me enough that Gray invited me back for 2010. And I participated again in 2011.
But there was no summit in 2012 and 2013. In all likelihood, there won’t be a summit this year, either.
The summit teaches leadership skills to the eighth- and ninth-graders from the three school corporations chosen to attend.
Not having a summit is a real shame. The one-day event needs to be revived, because it plays a vital role in building character and leadership traits in young people.
Two things need to happen for a revival: 1) sufficient funding, and 2) the three Miami County school corporations must buy into the event, as they did in the past.
Jackquan "Jackie" Gray, Peru’s clerk-treasurer, was the driving force behind the summit, the primary person who made it happen.
She is willing to make it happen again if the needed funding is contributed and if the school corporations are willing to allow some of their students to spend a day away from school.
The summit began as a dream, Gray told me in an email interview, seemingly as a “grandiose adventure” she wasn’t sure would fly.
But it too wings, and the first summit occurred in March 2006.
Gray estimates more than 900 students have attended the events that started in the morning with a keynote speaker, followed by back-to-back, 40-minute breakout sessions conducted by community leaders in Miami County. Then the students broke for a pizza lunch, after which they attended a closing talk by the morning speaker before boarding buses for home.
“We [she, Mayor Jim Walker and then-Peru school superintendent Tom McKaig] had received information that Kokomo was holding such an event [at IUK],” Gray said. “We decided to take the day and spend our time learning how Kokomo had been successful and what we needed to do in order to replicate such an event.”