GRSP Update
Leadership Weekend, Student Selection and Strategic Planning All Focus on the Future

During the Leadership Weekend, students packed 10,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger. The weekend is sponsored by Dunwoody in partnership with Atlanta, Buckhead, Brookhaven, North Atlanta, Atlanta Metro Rotaract, and GRSP

During the Leadership Weekend, students packed 10,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger. The weekend is sponsored by Dunwoody in partnership with Atlanta, Buckhead, Brookhaven, North Atlanta, Atlanta Metro Rotaract, and GRSP

Sometimes trustees or host families for the GRSP get really lucky and have the opportunity to spend time with students at a student weekend. There are six student weekends during the year that Rotary Clubs around Georgia arrange for the students. Our district hosts the students for four of these weekends and most involve many clubs. Each one is special for very different reasons. Over the years the students have given their opinions about the weekends and these weekends have evolved into some extraordinary experiences for the students. If you are fortunate enough to be a driver for a student taking them to one of these weekends, you are invited to participate as much as you would like.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to drive my own students to the MLK Leadership Weekend, which started in downtown Atlanta at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The students were fascinated by the museum and asked interesting questions throughout the tour that related to the 60's movement. We in D6900 are well aware of the issue of human trafficking. One of the more enlightening exhibits was sitting at a counter at a Woolworths in downtown Atlanta during the early 60's when minorities were not allowed to sit at the counter. You were asked to put headphones on, then rest your hands on the counter for as long as you dared. While sitting on the stool, you were yelled at and felt as if someone was shouting in your ear, while your seat was shaken by the people around you, trying to make you leave. I think I made it for 90 seconds before I had to get up. A museum assistant was there with a box of kleenex and a look of understanding, as I raced to the darkness of the next theater to get my face back in order. This museum is very interactive and a wonderful learning experience for our students.


Each year trustees and the executive committee meet in January in Savannah for a semi-annual meeting, which culminates in selection of scholars for the following academic year. Your fellow Rotarians who serve GRSP are some of the most generous, along with the host families who open their homes to total strangers, who then end up becoming family members after only a few weeks. These Rotarians travel to Savannah on their own dime to discuss ways of improving the experience for both the student and the clubs and it’s always so wonderful to see the dedication of these very special people. As always, selection was interesting. Last year was the first year that we had two pages of information on the students, which most feel is more helpful. We had many good candidates to choose from and every single club in Georgia received a student that they picked from the Selection Book. They may not have received their first choice, as there were many students who were select #1 by multiple groups and the winner of the draw was very excited when they picked the “blue eraser." In some cases, the selection of the losing red eraser determined the "winner."

We are happy to report that we have four new trustees onboard for next fiscal year: Kerry Arnold from Henry County RC, Gaynor Cheokas from Americus RC, Christopher Drew from North Atlanta RC and Alex Kauffman from Roswell RC. Kerry, Gaynor and Alex joined us for selection this year, so they should be well trained for next year.


If you have read our previous newsletter items, you know that GRSP has invited the Fanning Institute to assist us in strategic planning. We are optimistic that all aspects of the program will be reviewed with solutions to some of our most pressing problems and a plan for the future. As part of that process:

  • During the Leadership Conference, the students this year were asked to participate in strategic planning for GRSP, so the Fanning Institute sent a list of questions for the students. The students were asked to separate into groups of 4-6 students and each group was given a laptop computer. They were asked to answer the questions that were flashed up on the main screen in the room. The answers would be typed into the laptop and would be flashed on the main screen, so that everyone could see; however, the laptops were anonymous, so that no one knew which group made which reply to which question. Several questions were asked and the students enthusiastically answered.
  • After student selection in Savannah, trustees and directors were divided into groups of six to participate in a session exactly like the students. The representatives from the Fanning Institute told us afterward that the answers given by the trustees and directors were much the same as the students, which we all found to be very interesting. We were much more aware than we were led to believe by others.
  • We are being asked to submit names and contact information for Rotarians, past and present host families, past students and anyone whom we feel might be able to provide some insights into what the Georgia Rotary Student Program must do to remain relevant. You may submit your information to your trustee or directly to me. Some people may be asked to participate in a questionnaire and some may be asked to be interviewed in person. It would be helpful to GRSP if you could make yourself available.

We are hopeful that we will have some information by our summer meeting in July. We expect that the students for next year will also participate and be asked specific questions about the application process and their experience in the months following.

Posted by Lynn Clarke
February 5, 2018


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