About 50 students, parents, and Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce members gathered at the Rockport Country Club last week for a graduation ceremony ending a unique year for Class XVI.
During the seven-month Youth Leadership Aransas County (YLAC) Program, students made it through the first few months in person, but had to participate virtually the last few months. The YLAC program included attending classes, workshops, tours, trips, homework and this year, a class project. It is designed to be a complete orientation about the community so students understand the makeup of their community and carry that thought process into their high school years and beyond.
For the first time in the history of the 16-year program, this class completed a class project, a new mural in downtown Rockport, in collaboration with The Rockport Cultural Arts District (RCAD).
The mural is titled “The Underwater Sea Life Mural.”
RCAD board member Pam Heard originally drove this initiative in 2019.
RCAD is deeply appreciative for this opportunity, which was made possible with the generosity of the Margaret Sue Rust Foundation. The mural was originally planned to be personally painted by the youth participating in the class, however, COVID-19 forced a greater level of creativity in getting this project completed.
Each student produced an individual rendering of his or her vision of underwater sea life, which RCAD board member and artist Audrianna Rios compiled into a single mural rendering. Local painter Matt Loveless translated each student’s rendering as he painted the mural on the wall. Each of the youth’s names is displayed below their design as a reminder of their contribution to the community and their achievement in graduating from YLAC 2020.
RCAD and the YLAC class dedicated the mural Saturday, Sept. 26.
It was noted public art encourages economic growth by attracting tourists and creating a vibrant and creative community.
YLAC Class XVI members are Piper Shearer, Devon Clark, Meredith Sunberg, Emma Groseclose, William Stephenson, Jacqueline Crabb, Boden Klanica, Ava Moreno, Samuel Anaya, Ava Brandon, Adrian Villarreal, Donovan Hall, Mason Garza, and Stormie Lewis.
This year’s mentors are Milana Klanica, Laila Flowers, Brady Hattman, Madeline Crabb, and Malayna Vasquez.
Dawn Walker served as class director.
She told parents in attendance at the graduation, “You guys, you’re awesome parents. I can’t say enough about the program. It opens your eyes so much to what’s around you.”
Program Director April Intorre told the graduates, “I look forward to see what your future holds. Never underestimate the difference you make.”
Chamber Chairman Robert Mitchell encouraged the class to continue learning and serving.
“The sky is the limit,” he said.