Cairo High School Student Ambassadors and sponsors pictured from left to right are (front row) Jessica Griffin, J’ajah Frazier, Asia Dukes, Sierra Lemcke, Madison Catrett, Meghan Ridenour and Erica Gancerez. (Back row) Emily White, Theodore Hendrixson, Jenny Harrison, Keaton Dumas and Tim Helms Jr.

CAIRO — About 17 of Cairo High School’s new Student Ambassadors are visiting Auburn University this week thanks to the donations of several Auburn alumni who live in Cairo.

Cairo High School started this innovative leadership program at the beginning of the 2014 school year. It is designed to develop leadership and show students life outside Cairo High School and Grady County.

“A lot of the students' parents didn't go to college themselves,” said Meghan Ridenour, a sponsor of the Cairo High School Student Ambassador program, “so they really don't know how to help their children in their college search.”

Some of the students haven't been out of Cairo and a lot of them have never been out of the state.

On Thursday, the ambassadors toured Auburn, had a nice lunch and learned about the college experience first-hand. To raise the $400 necessary for the bus and driver for this day trip to Auburn, Ridenour reached out to Auburn alumni, Celia and Bill Bass.

“Celia Bass really spearheaded the campaign,” said Ridenour. “She contacted Auburn fans and alumni in the area and they ended up raising over $850.”

“It was so wonderful. We're hoping to challenge alumni from the University of Georgia and others to beat what the Auburn alumni did,” said Ridenour. “We are hoping to get the kids to tour several of the big universities.”

They are also hoping to go to Chicago for a four or five-day trip.

Advertising for the Student Ambassador Program began in August. Students filled out applications, listing their grade point averages, service hours and attendance. Applicants were then interviewed and 22 students were selected.

“These kids are natural leaders,” explained Jenny Harrison, another of the four teacher sponsors of the program, “but there are things they need to learn that you aren't just born with. We are very proud to be teaching these bright kids the leadership skills they need.”

Their first event was a “Meet and Greet” with the Cairo High administration, Grady County Board of Education, charter partners on the Charter Board and assistant school superintendents. The event's purpose was to help the student ambassadors get comfortable meeting with adults.

The next event was to host a group of adults from Tennessee that were touring Cairo High. After the trip to Auburn, the ambassadors will host a talent show on Friday, Dec. 12 to raise money for their trip to Chicago.

The Student Ambassadors are Jacquez Ash, Julia Bass, Keyana Brinson, Madison Catrett, Lauren Corley, Michaelia Crawford, Caleb Denton, Asia Dukes, Keaton Dumas, J'ajah Frazier, Erica Gancerez, Jessica Griffin, Takia Harris, Hannah Harrison, Theodore Hendrixson, Tiyana Herring, Erica Hilbig, Sierra Lemcke, Hannah Nelson, Koby Pyrz, Sabrina Teems and Emily White.

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