TEXAS CITY – Twelve blindfolded teen members of the LEADS program stand in a group holding a long rope in a grassy area at Nessler Park on Tuesday morning. Their goal is to use communication and leadership skills to create a square with their bodies while still holding on to the rope.
The LEADS program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is made up of juniors and seniors from Galveston County high schools who represent the leaders in their classes.
“We believe in education. We believe in the youth of Galveston County, and we think that these people could provide the leadership for the future for us,” said Mary Ellen Doyle, one of the founders of LEADS.
Tuesday morning was especially important for one LEADS member who would be picked to win a $1,000 scholarship from Doyle and her husband, Chuck.
Twenty-three students who attended all four LEADS events in their junior and senior years were in the running to win. However, Alexis Bramlett, a 17-year-old senior at Dickinson High School, was the lucky one picked.
She is heading to the University of Texas in Austin in the fall to pursue a career as a medical examiner.
The $1,000 will help Bramlett, as she said she’s had a hard senior year. Because of family problems, she hasn’t been living with her parents.
“It’s been a really hard road,” she said. “I told myself that I was going to stay determined. I was going to go to school, and I was going to find a way somehow.”
Bramlett is just one of 175 students who have the grades, community involvement and teacher recommendations to be chosen for the LEADS program. This year, there were 250 applicants.
Colin Abernathy, a Texas City High School senior who will attend the University of Texas in Austin for petroleum engineering, said he likes the program’s workshops because he gets to make friends with students from other schools in the area.
“I really enjoy working well with people that you’re not used to working with, creating those bonds that wouldn’t necessarily come to you if this place wasn’t presented to us,” Abernathy said.
Zachary Haley, a Texas City High School senior, agreed with Abernathy.
“This is a great day for students like us to come out here and get to meet kids from other schools who are just like us,” he said.