GREEN: To paraphrase legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, leaders aren’t born, they are made.

For the past decade, Green Local Schools has been following that premise with its Developing Leaders of Tomorrow program.

Each year, 10 high school juniors are nominated for the program by faculty and staff.

Connie Leonard, retired Green Schools curriculum director and a school board member who has been with the program since its inception, said teachers are asked “to nominate students that you see as having leadership potential.”

“We don’t want those who are already well along in their leadership skills,” Leonard said. “We want kids who haven’t had as much leadership opportunity that we can bring along.”

The program was conceived as a joint undertaking by ComDoc, the Green-based division of Xerox Corp.; the school district’s administration; Green Schools Foundation; and Heart to Heart Communications of Akron.

This year, the participants will implement a one-day, schoolwide project during the second semester of the school year, rather than at the beginning of the next school year.

“Their challenge with this program is to create a one-day event and take all the steps necessary to present the combined jobs fair and college fair,” said Colleen Winney of ComDoc.

Winney said it’s clear through their initial discussions that the 10 students “understand the value of vocation.”

“They understand how important it is to be prepared for college or trade schools,” she said. “They are being trained to help their fellow students and the whole school understand how they can better prepare to transition from high school to the next step in their career development.”

The one-day project will be presented sometime in January to the school’s administrators, Mayor Gerard Neugebauer and ComDoc staff.

To help them get started, nine of the 10 students participated last week in a one-day team building exercise at Camp Y-Noah. The day was spent sketching their project to facilitators and then focusing on mind games and exercises, including working together to boost each other up the camp’s 50-foot tower.

Along with Winney and Leonard, other facilitators who were there to witness the students’ efforts and provide suggestions included Julie McMahan, the district’s public relations and community coordinator; and Akron Attorney Larry Vuillemin, who co-founded the Heart to Heart program in 1990 with the Rev. Norm Douglas.

“The Camp Y-Noah session was structured for individual and team-building exercises, which helped the students see what can be done by believing in themselves and their fellow students,” McMahan said.

Juniors chosen for the yearlong program are Danny Dorazio, Matt Gruic, Emily Gage, Maria Herdlick, Ashleigh Keller, Kevin Lin, Kaleb Martin, Zoe Polacheck, Taylor Schmitt and Andrew Sensius.

Asked why she applied for the program after being nominated, Gage replied, “I thought it would be a great opportunity to develop the leadership skills to help me be a leader in the community and the school.”

Classmate Dorazio said: “I plan to attend the University of Akron and earn my degree in computer science engineering and software development and then move to the Silicon Valley to focus my career in a place where software engineering is very prevalent and an expanding enterprise.

“I was surprised, too, because there are many students I believe would have been qualified, but I am honored that I was chosen by one of my teachers.”

The 10 were chosen from a group of 50 nominees. Facilitators narrowed the list to 10 and two alternates. The participants won’t know their sponsor’s identity until the May banquet at Prestwick Country Club for parents, administrators, teachers, city leaders, ComDoc personnel and guests.

ComDoc also offers a $500 scholarship each year to the student leader who has attended every meeting, participated throughout and then written the best essay on the topic, “If you could address your peers offering leadership and development advice, what would you say to them?”

George W. Davis can be reached at: mediaman@sssnet.com.