BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Future Business Leaders of America is taking steps to establish a Toastmasters International Youth Leadership Program (YLP) at Governor Livingston High School.

Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization that aims to educate people about communication, and provide them with public speaking and leadership skills that will help them gain more self-confidence. 

The Youth Leadership Program implements activities to teach students how to control their vocabulary and their voices and sharpen their speaking abilities. The program requires eight to fourteen dedicated and hardworking students who will be able to commit to the seven-week program. 

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Freshman Vibhav Chaturvedi, who is a graduate of the program, introduced the program to FBLA adviser Thomas Kendall, who is also the business teacher at the school.

Students who enroll will participate in a week of orientation and six weeks of activities. Participants learn how to give impromptu speeches, improve their writing and present their work. At the conclusion of the program, the students receive a certificate of completion to honor their success and commitment, and the high school. will be permitted to have a Gavel Club: a high school specific version of Toastmasters. 

“I personally wanted to start this club to support my peers in a time where it is difficult to communicate with teachers and other students. Being online makes it much harder to stay engaged in class and makes students who may have been outspoken before become quiet and inattentive. I wanted to contribute to the solving of this problem using my personal skills and experience,” Chaturvedi said.

As a freshman, Arisa Rampurada is eager to participate in as many interesting clubs as she can, and she is excited to witness the success of the Youth Leadership Program. Rampurada said, “I look forward to working with my peers towards growing our leadership skills together.” 

Many of the skills that the students will gain through the program are essential in the virtual world they have become accustomed to.

Kendall said, “It will help in remote learning, how to be more comfortable and confident while on a video conference call. I believe these skills are necessary to develop at the high school level. So when you are in secondary education and beyond, you have built the confidence to speak in front of groups, whether it be a podium, video conference, video meeting, a large group or small group of individuals.”

Participation in the Youth Leadership Program will allow students to broaden their social, leadership, and communication skills.