Tuesday, March 6 students, parents, educators, and community leaders gathered at the Charlotte Performing Arts Center to recognize students for the Charlotte Optimist Club’s Youth Appreciation Week. The evening involved a brief ceremony with guest speakers, an award portion in which the students were recognized, and a reception that followed.

Youth Appreciation Week is a period set aside every year by Optimist International to honor students who “consistently model excellent character traits and optimism each day of their lives.” The week is recognized by the United States Congress and the president.

Eric Emery opened the evening by introducing the audience to the core purposes of the Optimist Club.

“To recognize the accomplishments of youth in the home, school, church, and community. To promote more active participation by members of families in the interest of activities involving the family as a unit; and to encourage parents to rededicate themselves to the responsibilities of parenthood. To encourage organizations and other groups to publicly show their respect for youth. To encourage the news media to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of youth through regular and special features. To provide the proper environment for youth, including opportunities for participation in recreational and social activities. To focus attention on the influence religion and morals have on the lives of youth and to encourage youth to actively participate in spiritual activities. To encourage a greater interchange of ideas between adults and youth leading to a broader understanding of each other’s problems.”

It was on the core objectives of the Optimist Club that the guest speakers each briefly spoke. State Representatives Tom Barrett and Brett Roberts, as well as state Senator Rick Jones and Charlotte Mayor Tim Lewis spoke on the value of optimism and positive attitude in positions of leadership.

“All of you are probably leaders here tonight, in your own respective way. Even those of you who are youngest here can be leaders in your peer group,” said Barrett to the students.

Roberts, Lewis, and Jones echoed many similar sentiments about measuring success, elevating others through good attitudes and hard work, and the unique importance of youth leadership. The governing leaders likewise applauded parents and teachers for their enduring work in bringing up children and teens to be active and honorable participants in their communities,

Students were recognized from local school districts including Charlotte, Maple Valley, Potterville, and St. Mary’s. Each student had a teacher who’d sponsored them because of exemplary behavior and attitude in the classroom. They received Optimist awards as well as legislative awards from Representatives Barrett and Roberts.

To learn more about the Charlotte Optimist Club, readers can visit optimistclubcharlotte.weebly.com, or visit optimist.org to learn more about optimist international.