Posted by Carl Gerhardt on Feb 19, 2019
On 2/19/2019, Tonya McCluskey brought two of the Alpha Academy students who attended the 2019 RYLA Camp in January this year to talk to the Magnolia Rotary Club membership. Pictured above from left to right are Alpha Principal Bryan Cooper, Alpha Student Abagail Black, Alpha Student Kurtis Hoover, and Alpha Teacher Tonya McCluskey.
Tonya McCluskey introduced Alpha Students Abagail Black and Kurtis Hoover as two of the three students who attended the 2019 RYLA Camp. Tonya told everyone that this years RYLA was another awesome success as it always is. Tanya pointed out that RYLA is completely student led and the adults are simply there to help facilitate the event that was held at the Piney Woods Baptist Encampment. She also told everyone that the trust built up between the students is amazing and that in many cases it produces lifelong friendships. Tonya then asked the students to talk a little bit about their experiences.
Kurt Hoover told everyone that he never expected that RYLA would change him in any way. However, at the end of the event, he had to admit that it had changed him greatly. Abby had a similar experience in that she was very shy and did not expect to get much out of the event. However, she too had to admit that the event changed her in so many ways and that she had more fun than she ever imagined. Abby and Kurt also stated that the both learned a great deal about themselves.
Both Abby and Kurt spoke of the various group learning sessions they were part of including the island to island exercise that forced them to work together as a team. They also talked about the Trust Fall exercise that forced them to trust complete strangers and Kurt said he enjoyed it so much, he did it twice. In addition, they both spoke about an exercise where everyone was blind folded in a line except the last person who did not have a blindfold. However, the last person had to get the person in the front of the line to find a trash basket and drop a ball into it. However, no one was allowed to speak. In spite of this condition, the team was eventually successful.
Both Abby and Kurt really enjoyed the food, especially the 24-7 all you can eat Blue Bell Ice Cream. In addition they really liked the Saturday night bonfire where almost 300 students were in attendance.
Kurt also spoke about one of the speakers (he thought his name was Jamie West) who was a drug addict who had turned himself around and eventually wrote a book about his experience.