Summer Service for Leadership Students


From left to right: Kayla Weddington, Crystal Currin and Bessie Barlow

Freshman Leadership

Three freshman leaders were selected to attend a HOBY leadership retreat this past June, where they spent a weekend at Elmhurst College participating in unique leadership training, service-learning and motivation-building experiences.

Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) is a youth leadership organization that “has a long and impressive history of successfully motivating youth and volunteers to outstanding leadership.” According to the website, HOBY’s Mission is to “inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.”

The three students were selected by Freshman Class Sponsor Julie Kirk, based on their leadership qualities and dedication through hard work and commitment. Dr. Young initiated the process and funded the retreat. He kept in contact with the students and parents throughout the entire process to ensure that the girls had a memorable experience.

Bessie Barlow described her time at the retreat as “amazing” and recommends that anyone given a chance to go should, because it’s an opportunity to work “outside of your comfort zone” and find out things about yourself that you didn’t know you had in you. There were service projects that the students completed during their stay, including making blankets, capes, and activity books for various children’s organizations. The most meaningful project to Bessie was the making of Syd rocks, which are necklaces made out of rocks. Syd Rocks was founded by a young girl named Sydney who is fighting a rare blood disorder, LCH. She begin selling them and donating the profits to medical research to help find a cure.

Kayla Weddington stated that “HOBY was an experience that I’ll never forget.” The people she met and spent time with became her “little family for the weekend.”  She learned that to become a great leader, you first have to “lead yourself.” Most importantly, however, HOBY taught her that “leaving a mark on your community doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to raise thousands of dollars for a cause. It can be something as simple as a smile or visiting a retirement home, or even you and your friends making kids in a hospital laugh – it doesn’t take a lot to make a change; just dedication and determination.”

HOBY was more than just a leadership program; it was a second home.

— Crystal Currin

Crystal Currin’s greatest fear upon arrival was that she wouldn’t fit in. She was afraid that she wasn’t “creative enough” or that maybe she wasn’t “a good leader”. However, after three short hours, she soon realized that HOBY was “the best thing ever” and soon became quick friends with her group members. During the retreat, selected students were asked to partake in an interview that would later determine which two participants (one male, one female) would be awarded a $500.00 scholarship towards an upcoming World Leadership Conference (WLC). Crystal was interviewed and selected as the female recipient and attended the WLC in July. The week-long retreat was hosted by Loyola University in Chicago where leadership workshops, service projects, and guest speakers continued to amaze and inspire her. At the end of it all, Crystal soon realized that “HOBY was more than just a leadership program; it was a second home.”

Hillcrest HS’s Freshman Leadership organization is sponsored by Julie Kirk.