RALEIGH, N.C. – A brand new program, designed to “light a fire in young people” to make positive changes in their own communities, has already impacted not only the students involved, but also teachers, parents, attorneys, local charities and one of the state’s highest courts.

The McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge, established by Poyner Spruill partner and former Congressman Mike McIntyre, was inaugurated before the North Carolina Court of Appeals during the recent Law Day celebration hosted by the North Carolina Bar Association in Raleigh.

McIntyre called the event a “huge success” and described the presentations given by the program’s “Final Four” students as “inspirational speeches about much-needed programs and projects in their communities where active civic engagement would make a difference.”

The Final Four students were:

  • First-place winner, Avery Thatcher
  • Second-place winner, Robert Fensom
  • Finalist, Annie Russell
  • Finalist, Marianna Zellmer

The McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge was established to provide opportunities for civic engagement and community leadership to students in high school. McIntyre stated, “It is our hope that this new Youth Leadership Challenge will light a fire in young people to demonstrate how through good citizenship, civic engagement and dynamic leadership, they can carry the torch forward and challenge themselves and others to discover new solutions to the problems their communities face.”

Each participant was asked to consider a challenge they see in their local community, advocate for the necessity to mitigate that challenge, and then speak to the actions they would take upon returning to their community to lessen the impact of that challenge moving forward.

The program began on March 24th when a group of students gathered from across the state to present before a panel of attorneys who volunteered to judge the competition. From that group of students, the four finalists were chosen and invited back to Raleigh on May 4th to present to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Avery Thatcher was chosen as the winner and was able to give her presentation once more at the Law Day luncheon. Both Avery and Robert were given a monetary donation, in their name, to the charity of their choice.

After the program concluded, McIntyre had this to say about its success: “I am so grateful for the overwhelming positive response we received from the students, teachers, parents and legal community for this year’s inaugural program! We look forward to even stronger participation next year!”

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