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Junior Youth of the Year

Hello everyone! I am so excited to share about one of my favorite programs: Junior Youth of the Year.

Before I became a Club staff, I taught high school for three years. One of my main responsibilities as a teacher was to coach our speech and debate team. At the time, it was like a dream for me. I competed in high school, college, and thought I would be a coach for several years. But...

Something that started during my tenure was a middle school speech and debate division. The goal of this was to better prepare middle school students for high school competition...and it worked. So, I kind of took that mentality with me and started a Junior Youth of the Year competition when I was a Club director in Lawrence in 2011.

Today, JYOTY has become a part of the Youth of the Year suite. I was lucky enough to share (and steal :) ideas with BGCA and other Clubs across the nation and's a thing! There are so many great resources you can find on and on the Club Experience Blog! I am also going to share what we do here in lovely Springfield, USA!

STEP ONE: Market your program with this cool sign!

STEP TWO: We begin by putting our little angels through the Junior Youth of the Year program. We identify 5th grade members (remember the Sertoma Unit serves K-5, you can do this with your 10-12s too!) who might be interested in the program. We also identify some "middle kids" who might like the opportunity to compete. The great thing about this program is that it naturally weeds out any member who doesn't want to put the work forth to achieve the crown. Find the program plans here!

STEP THREE: Once your members have gone through the program, it is time to start getting your event underway! Give parents information like this, have members complete their applications, and use these resources to help members prepare:

Click here for sample interview questions.

Click here for sample essays and speeches

STEP FOUR: Recruit your judges! Our panel usually consists of a teacher from a school we serve, an administrative Club staff, a former Youth of the Year, a Board member, and a community leader. Make sure judges arrive in plenty of time to review member packets! Provide these meaningful documents for judges:

Click here for sample judging ballots.

Click here for interview information for judges.

STEP FIVE: Conduct your event and Recognize your winners! Members usually follow this schedule of the day of the competition:

Final preparations

Get dressed in formal or nice attire

Practice speech

10 minute interview rotations

After all competitors have interviewed, allow judges some quality time to decompress and score. Then, score your members and prepare certificates for the winners. You can decide how to celebrate, but we usually have an assembly and the winner is tasked with being the year's ambassadors, participates in several speaking arrangements, and receives a free membership for the summer!

There you have it! I hope this helps you lead an awesome program for our awesome members! Questions or comments? Please reach out to me! I am happy to help!

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