A rising Evans High School senior recently returned from a select leadership program in Atlanta.
In June, Taylor Brooks, 17, spent a week at "Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience," a 21st Century Leaders program designed to enhance high school students' leadership and critical thinking skills.
A nonprofit organization, 21st Century Leaders is a leadership development initiative for Georgia high school students. Taylor was the only Columbia County student and one of only eight from the Augusta area selected for the program. Statewide, 100 students were chosen for the initiative out of a pool of about 500 applicants.
The students attended daily workshops that focused on media, current events and expanding world views. The program, which was held at the Georgia Institute of Technology, included a visit to CNN World Headquarters.
Taylor said he will be able to use the leadership skills that he learned in his everyday life.
"A lot of people think leadership is just controlling the group, micromanaging," he said. "It's more about how everyone contributes for everyone else's benefit."
The students divided into smaller groups of seven or eight people to develop a news project.
A panel of CNN employees judged the presentations and selected the top three. Those groups vied for first place honors and the possibility of having their projects aired on CNN.
Taylor said his group finished in second place.
Their project, Raising the Issues: A Generation's Outlook on the Election, included a video and Web site content.
At the end of the video, Taylor said, the group compared the views of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.
The students also attended panel discussions with CNN anchors and corporate lawyers. The workshop topics included CNN's political coverage, how to pitch a story and diversity and ethics in broadcasting.
"I didn't realize they considered so many things when they were working on a news story," Taylor said. "They would always try to figure out how to include every angle of the story."
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