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'Opportunities are really endless': Leadership Dickinson celebrates graduation

Trinity student Dylan Stradling receives certificate for completing Leadership Dickinson. Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press

Students in the Leadership Dickinson program graduated from their 8 month-long course on Wednesday.

Ashley Tillman, the program's organizer, said the program is aimed at getting local teenagers involved in their community and showing them what Dickinson has to offer.

"I think that especially one of the biggest things that we've seen this year was people that are from Dickinson or North Dakota just in general and not knowing all of the things that are in our city ... that the opportunities are really endless here," she said.

It's Tillman's first year organizing the program.

"I couldn't have picked a better group," she told the Trinity and Dickinson High School students in the program. "You always took the opportunity anywhere we went ... you guys always were wanting to learn, asking questions. You guys were truly interested, and I think that's what makes being a part of Leadership Dickinson so important for us."

Students attend one session each month, beginning in September with a team building day.

"On the first day, kinda stuck to our school, and we didn't know each other super well," said student Carrie Bleyenberg. "We were kinda nervous about it, almost. I found that over the course of the day when we started doing activities where we had to either stand on two little pieces of wood and fit all of us on there, we very quickly became very close in terms of friendship — and proximity."

During the other months, students toured a farm, fire department, police department, solid and water waste departments, recycling building, hospital, the Domestic Violence Rape and Crisis Center as well as manufacturing and energy businesses, Medora and the state capitol.

The program culminated in a community service project that student Hillary Moberg envisioned.

The students were able to donate a bag with four boxes of Kleenex, a large container of Clorox wipes and a large bottle of hand sanitizer to every classroom in town.

"The fact that we were able to get even more donations to grow it into an even bigger project and help every single school and every single student was just an incredible feeling," Moberg said.

She got the idea from her mother, who is the librarian at Dickinson High School.

"She has always talked about the fact that they don't get very good quality tissues. They're very thin, and that's a common theme throughout the elementary schools as well. We thought it'd be nice during cold and flu season..." Moberg said.