Winchester Community High School senior Emily McCoy Sunday afternoon was named Youth Salute Youth Leader of the Year in a ceremony at The Randolph County Fairgrounds’ Husted Hall. A student from each county school system received an award of excellence and six area students were nominated to attend The Town Meeting on Tomorrow, an intensive leadership skills seminar held each year in St. Louis, Mo.

    The occasion marked the 34th annual Randolph County Youth Leadership Council Youth Salute awards program.

    Award of Excellence honorees are: Abigail Alka, Randolph Southern High School; Emmaleigh Baldwin, Winchester Community High School; Adali Bird, Union High School; Reagan Hoggatt, Union City High School; and Riley Moulton, Monroe Central High School.

    Town Meeting on Tommorrow attendees are: Emmaleigh Baldwin, WCHS; Maria Batt, WCHS; Chandler Hoel, MCHS; Emily McCoy, WCHS; Riley Moulton, MCHS; and Drew Reed, WCHS.

    The guest speaker for Sunday’s program was Astral Industries president and decorated Vietnam veteran Dave Hazelett. Hazelett, who has served as President of the Casket Manufacturers Association of Tomorrow and was a 17-year member of the Randolph County Hospital Board, told students about the value of leadership and the importance of dedication and perseverance.

    “Leaders add value to people,” Hazelett said.  “Everything worth doing is an uphill battle – it’s uphill all the way. You cannot go uphill with a downhill attitude.

    “Everyone knows what they do and how they do it, but most people can’t tell you why they do what they do. Why you do what you do is the reason you get out of bed every morning. The Wright brothers believed that powered manned flight would change human history forever. Nobody on the Wright brothers’ team had more than a high school education, but they believed in what they were doing and that made all the difference in the world.

    “Dr. Martin Luther King said there are laws made by man and laws made by a higher authority. He said not until the laws of man reflect that higher authority will there be justice. About 250,000 people who believed in what Dr. King believed in showed up on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for his March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Aug. 28, 1963.

    “It’s the story of belief. Doctors, policemen and women, teachers and parents believe. Young people, your parents believe in you.”

    He said Intelligence quotient (IQ) is not a major predictor of success in life, but people with high EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) are significantly more likely to succeed.

    He praised the drive and discipline of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi.

    “Lombardi said successful people do the things failures don’t like to do,” Hazelett said. “A winner can be someone who tried one more time than the person who failed. Grit, perseverance are important traits. “Accept it – you’re not going to be happy all the time. You’ve got to go through the difficult times. There will always be situations we think of as good luck and others that we see as bad luck. We can’t decide how much of each will come our way. It is generally about 70 percent good and 30 percent bad. Attitude decides how much the bad luck will affect you and how much the good luck will affect you.

    “Live and work with a purpose. Find something you believe in,” he told the student honorees.

    Hazelett said everyone needs a mentor. He told students to each pick their own mentor rather than wait for someone to pick them.

    A total 48 students representing all five county high schools participated in Sunday’s program. In its 34-year history, Youth Salute has provided $3,600 in scholarships to Award of Excellence and Youth Leader of the Year honorees. The program has honored 2,362 local youths and given $49,700 in scholarships to the Town Meeting on Tomorrow for 137 area students to attend.

    Randolph County Youth Leadership Council member Jeannie English recognized 2018 Flame of Leadership Award honoree Jeff Grow, Union City Wesley United Methodist Church pastor.

    “He has truly been a difference-maker for local young people,” English said of Grow.