The Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy origins were born out of a Kosciusko Leadership Academy white paper project written by Alvin Gore and Ruth Block in 1990 - 1991.
Shortly thereafter, a trio of individuals consisting of Peggy Michaels, Ann Lash Branson and Jerry Parker, piggy backed off of the original white paper proposed by Gore and Block and wrote and expanded version of the paper in 1992 - 1993.
In the summer of 1993 the Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy officially started and became an organization when Michaels, Branson and Parker set out to implement the program. They spent the remainder of 1993 and 1994 planning and setting up the academy. In September of 1994 the very first class session was held consisting of 25 seniors from Warsaw, Wawasee, Tippecanoe Valley, Whitko and Triton High Schools. In May of 1995 the academy saw it's first group of 25 students receive diplomas.
A formal board of directors was installed in the summer of 1995, which was comprised of several area business leaders. The newly appointed board members implemented an expanded curriculum of leadership sessions for the class and adopted by laws.
Although the curriculum has been updated on a continuous basis over the years, the basic structure is much the same today as it was in 1994, when the academy held its first class.
Students interact with several guest speakers in many of the sessions, including: City, County and State Government / Implementing Leadership Skills; Agri-Business; Orthopedic and Healthcare; Problem Solving; Social Services; Law Enforcement / Judicial System. In addition to this, students take a tour of Kosciusko County Courthouse, Justice Building, EMS Dispatch Center, and the Kosciusko County Jail, LSC Communications, and DePuy Synthes and downtown Warsaw businesses.
The first Kosciusko Youth Leadership class was the class of 1994 - 1995 and had a total of 25 members. Today, class size ranges between 25 and 35 high school juniors. Since its inception, KYLA has built it roll of graduates to over 700.
There is no application charge or cost to participate, as KYLA is 100% funded by local companies, organizations and individuals. Applicants are accepted from six high schools located within the county: Lakeland Christian Academy, Tippecanoe Valley, Triton, Warsaw, Wawasee, and Whitko. However, academy students may actually live in four different counties that feed into Kosciusko County schools, including: Kosciusko, Elkhart, Marshall, and Whitley Counties.
To date, over 200 community service projects have been completed by KYLA graduates and hundreds of thousands of dollars raised have been raised and invested back into the local communities. Some of the projects completed include: