Two rising seniors at North Plainfield High School attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Award weekend at Drew University this year. Laura Martinez and Maeva Guevara, members of the North Plainfield High School Interact Club, were selected to attend the conference by the Club’s adviser because of their dedication and leadership. Cost for the RYLA weekend, $275.00 per student, was paid by the Rotary Club of the Plainfields.

“Our club takes great pride in mentoring the members of the Interact Club,” said Rotary President Roberta Smith. “We work together on projects and help the Interact members develop skills, work collaboratively with others, and have fun in the process. RYLA is the perfect opportunity for us to sponsor Interact leadership development.”

Rotary District 7510 and District 7470 teamed up again this year to present RYLA, merging the best skills from both districts. RYLA was held June 15, 16, 17 at Drew University in Madison. The weekend is designed for Rotary to show the best of what it can do to inspire the next generation with the ideals of Rotary.

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This dynamic, three-day program is designed to engage the students in active conversation, cooperation, and creativity to not only show them that there are like-minded people but also how to engage with them to make sure their ideas come to fruition. Former participants have started multi-million dollar charities, international service projects, and one notable individual was recognized by the New York Times as Woman of the Year in 2011 and as CNN Hero of the Year in 2015 for her founding of an orphanage and school in Nepal.

Students arrive Friday afternoon where they participate in a unique, integrated "get to know you process" so students feel like they’ve known each other for their entire life. Saturday morning features in renowned speakers, notable leaders who can speak directly to high school students.

On Saturday afternoon, students take what they have learned and put their skills into action in an experiential learning experience custom-designed for RYLA. The activity teaches cooperation, team building and how the ideals of Rotary can work in real life situations. It also reinforces leadership skills like no classroom can.

Saturday night is considered the highlight of the weekend. A motivational speaker teaches the students, in a unique way, that nothing is impossible and that they can achieve any dream they want. This is the part of the weekend no one ever forgets!

Sunday is Rotary Day were students are introduced to Rotary programs, the principles of service, and how to engage these principles in local communities, the nation and in the world with Rotary’s support and framework.

Over the last 27 years the local RYLA event has evolved and has become a model for RYLA's across the country. Students come away with a profound understanding of Rotary and their ability to change the world.

The Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield, founded in 1921, has served the community for over 97 years. Members are community and business leaders in the area who meet weekly on Wednesdays at 12:15 pm at Giovanna’s Restaurant in Plainfield, except the first Wednesday of the month when they host a Social Hour at 8:30 a.m. at The Coffee Box, 1359 South Avenue, Plainfield.  Rotarians work on community service, vocational service, and international service projects throughout the year, with their main focus on community service in Plainfield and in North Plainfield. 

Contact Michael Townley, club secretary, at mailto:PNProtary@gmail.com for additional information or visit the Club’s website at www.rotarypnp.org or its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RotaryPNP.