IDEALS Leadership School honors local graduates

Peachtree Ridge's Anna Cate Miller speaks during the recent IDEALS Athletic Leadership School banquet.

Peachtree Ridge's Anna Cate Miller speaks during the recent IDEALS Athletic Leadership School banquet.

The IDEALS Athletic Leadership School celebrated its ever-growing impact on high school athletes with its recent graduation banquet at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast Hotel.

A total of 45 high schoolers --36 from Gwinnett -- were honored after graduating from the program, which was founded 20 years ago by former Georgia Tech football player and Lawrenceville resident Jack Williams.

Williams personally led the youngsters through months of training sessions titled Creating Your "I Believe" List, Decision Making, Next Level Leadership, Public Speaking, Team Dynamics and Time Management. Other guest lecturers, which included former program graduate like NFL tight end Michael Palmer of Parkview, offered programs called Perseverance, Mentoring, Goal Setting, Etiquette, Whole Brain Thinking/Communication and Principles of Money Management.

The program, which begins its sessions in mid-February that continue through mid-April, is designed to help young athletes reach their potential as influential leaders and positive role models.

In addition to the IDEALS program, Williams' latest endeavor also has flourished in recent years. The SALT (Student-Athlete Leadership Team) Program uses the IDEALS curriculum in video format, where student leaders run the sessions for others in their high schools. The SALT program is currently in 170 high schools in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, with schools in Tennessee and Kentucky slated to add it for the 2013-14 school year.

The 2013 leadership school celebration, as always, featured program participants as the guest speakers. St. Pius' Nick Ruffin and Brookwood's Alissa Cunningham were selected to kick off the banquet, followed by Mill Creek's Sydney Sawyer and Norcross' Jenna McEachern. Brookwood's Josh Brown, Peachtree Ridge's Anna Cate Miller and Greater Atlanta Christian's Jackson O'Brien were the featured speakers.

For more information on the IDEALS and SALT programs, visit www.idealsleadership.org or email Williams at jackw@idealsleadership.org.The following is a list of this year's IDEALS graduates:

• Brookwood: Alissa Cunningham, Joey McLane, Josh Brown

• Buford: Jessi Vaverka, Justice Bartley

• Centennial: Alexander Smith

• Dacula: Christie Blaurock, Jacob Oertley, Missy Johnson

• Duluth: Alyah McGriff, Amari Barrett, Chris Carleton

• GAC: Brianna Cummings, Rafe Chapple, Taylor McPherson, Jackson O'Brien

• Hebron: Jay Wallo, Morgan Easterling, Andrew Molnar

• Lanier: Ricky Viengxay, Meg McRee, Grey Lee Williams

• Mill Creek: Cody Jones, Gianna Chrestman, Chandler Avery, Sydney Sawyer

• North Forsyth: Brook Blevins, Hannah Whaley, Harris Roberts, Stephanie Grove

• North Gwinnett: Lindsey Cobb, Nate Brown, Matt Thompson

• Norcross: Clinton Lynch, Jenna McEachern, Nicki Willis

• Peachtree Ridge: Anna Cate Miller, Addy Lippitt, Sabrina Han, Evan Pantels, Caroline Williams

• St. Pius: Nick Ruffin, Michael Caragher, Daniel Crochet, Fred Dorsey