Rotary Recognizes Sophomores’ Service, Leadership

The Rotary Club of Weston and Wayland is excited to announce the fourth year of the ‘Rotary Rising Youth Leadership Award.’ The program recognizes sophomores in our year-long effort in keeping with the Rotary motto of “Service above self focusing on leadership and community service.” 

During the 2020-21 academic year, sophomores who live or study in Wayland or Weston will be recognized for their ability to weave “service above self” into their lives. John Marchiony, President of the Rotary Club this year, said “Community service is a core value of Rotary Clubs around the world, and our Club has plans to do more service, more often, with more people.” 

Since launching the Rotary Rising Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) in 2017, the Rotary Club of Weston and Wayland has recognized thirty sophomores and has sponsored ten each year to attend the transformational RYLA Conference which convenes each year in June. Any student can be nominated by a member of the community through a simple online form available at  Nominations for this year can be submitted online at by October 15, November 15, and February 1, 2021.  

Read the entire article in the Town Crier with the headline "Fourth year of honoring sophomores." 

“The students we have met over the first three years of the RYLA program,” Marchiony continued, ” have made amazing contributions and have become outstanding contributors and collaborators. Individually and with the Rotary Interact Clubs at the high schools in Wayland and Weston, the students who have been nominated for the award have made tremendous impact. A highlight of our experience has been contributing to the students’ initiatives and welcoming them as volunteers on projects we have done.”

Selected students will be recognized at innovative online and in-person events, and by GateHouse Media through the Town Crier newspapers and websites. 

Rotarian Patricia MacNeil, vice president of The Village Bank in Wayland, has seen clearly that “the students who are nominated and selected for the Rising Youth Leadership Award embody each word in the name. They're sophomores -- 15 and 16 year olds -- who are committed to contributing and leading, and are aspiring to be great citizens of their communities. These are young people to watch, and to follow. They are improving our communities now and for the future." 

Each student selected as an award winner also will be invited and encouraged to apply to represent Wayland and Weston at the 2021 Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA), the leadership conference held annually in Massachusetts. Approximately 200 students attend along with 200 volunteers. Zoe Hughes, Wayland Class of 2020, won the Award in 2018 and attended the conference.  “RYLA,” according to Hughes, was truly life-changing for me. After going as a sophomore, I had the privilege of being able to participate again this year as a Group Facilitator. The friendships I made, the leadership skills I acquired, and the passion I developed for service are all things that I’ll hold throughout my life. Because of RYLA, I am more confident in myself as a person and as a leader. I plan to go back to RYLA as a volunteer to help other kids experience what I did.” 

In 2021, the Weston Wayland Rotary Club again plans to sponsor ten students to attend the conference. 

The Rotary Club contributes to Wayland and Weston throughout the year, including this modified year. Since March, the Club has met virtually every week on Zoom, completed volunteer projects focused on food security issues, and put plans in place for three new community activities and service opportunities. At least twice each month, guest speakers have presented unique perspectives on diversity, equity and inclusion, the therapeutic capacity of laughing, and a historical look at Weston Town Center.  

For the last ten years, the Club has provided at least $15,000 of scholarship support to graduating seniors from Wayland and Weston. Rob Mosher, Scholarship Chair for Weston, is “already looking forward to our Scholarship Celebration Dinner in June, 2021 when we will be able to meet and celebrate the scholarship recipients we were able to support. This past June, I was amazed at the accomplishments of the graduating seniors we interviewed. ” “‘Service above self’ is the motto that attracted me to Rotary,” said Mark Messina, who advises the Interact Club at Wayland High School. “I believe that more people want to do more community service more often in our communities. These students, whether they are leaders or have shown potential for it, have great energy for engaging their peers, parents, and communities. It will be exciting to see what they create this year.”

For information or to get involved with the Rising Youth Leadership Award program or the Rotary Club of Weston and Wayland, visit