Receiving a Charge From Leadership Retreat, Teens Thank Rotary

Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK Glover Talt,  Ava Slocum, Calvin Yan and Richelle Chow recently spoke to the Rotary Club of San Marino about their experiences at the Rotary Youth Leadership Award retreat they attended on behalf of the club. Talt and Slocum attend San Marino High School, and Yan and Chow study at Southwestern Academy.
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Glover Talt, Ava Slocum, Calvin Yan and Richelle Chow recently spoke to the Rotary Club of San Marino about their experiences at the Rotary Youth Leadership Award retreat they attended on behalf of the club. Talt and Slocum attend San Marino High School, and Yan and Chow study at Southwestern Academy.

To hear its beneficiaries talk, the Rotary Club of San Marino’s investment in sending a group of enterprising area high school students to its annual district leadership retreat was well worth it.
The club heard last week from four of 14 Rotary Youth Leadership Award recipients whose trip to the recent retreat held in Running Springs was financed by the club and its South Pasadena counterpart. The 14 represented San Marino High School, Southwestern Academy and St. Francis High School.
In all, about 350 students from Rotary District 5300, which extends from Southern California to the Las Vegas area, attended the leadership event that puts the kids through group-building activities and calls in guest speakers to explain what it takes to be an effective leader. The local club funds the trips with proceeds from its annual San Marino Motor Classic.
Students are chosen based not on academic achievement — indeed, grade-point averages and report cards aren’t considered — but rather on how they fare in interviews and show themselves to be involved in their communities. Rotarian Rob Feidler, one of the RYLA coordinators, explained that the committee tries to create as diverse a pool of students as possible.
“You send the same 350 kids there, you’re probably not going to get a lot out of it,” he explained. “You send a diverse group, you’re going to get something out of it.”
Ava Slocum of SMHS dived into her favorite group activity, which concerned what participants hoped would be said about them in the future — and also what they least wanted said about them and their accomplishments.
“That for me was a very eye-opening activity,” she said. “In addition to just being there with new people, this was a new way to learn about the people we were just meeting. It exposed me to a lot of new experiences and introduced me to a lot of new people.”
Talt, another SMHS student, said his experience at the retreat will help him as a leader on the Titans football team and in the school’s choir.
“RYLA taught me to give to others and to also be myself, to be selfless and to always work for the betterment of others,” he said.
Calvin Yan, a student at Southwestern, touched on the diversity of his peers there and spoke about listening to them talk about how they approach different issues.
“Being able to talk to people and understand where they’re coming from and their mindset really helped me be a better person,” he said. “The memories I gained from that really helped me over the last couple of weeks.”
Southwestern’s Richelle Chow said that she was inspired by speaker Kathy Buckley, a deaf comedian, and that her main takeaway from the weekend was that people are probably not alone in their struggles, even if it seems that way.
“After she told her story of her background and how many things she’s been through in her life, it made me reflect on my life and how many things I’ve been ungrateful for, and it made me more grateful,” Chow said.
Others who attended the RYLA retreat included Hannah Ang, Alyssa Barrajas, Ethan Chen, Derek Deng, Vahini Garimella, Zhuojing Lu and Ingrid Teng from SMHS; Alina Yessenova and Raul Zwygart from Southwestern; and Tommy Shenoi from St. Francis.

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