Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee welcomes local students to the 2012 Sheriff’s Rising Stars Academy, a program designed to help students enhance their leadership abilities while rewarding them for their efforts with a special training.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) School Resource Section was once again pleased to welcome 30 well-qualified students to the third annual the “Sheriff’s Rising Stars Leadership Academy,” held earlier this month.

According to HCSO Community Outreach Division, School Resource Section, Master Sergeant Laura Regan, in conjunction with members of the HCSO training division, Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County School District, developed the course two years ago as a leadership program for incoming high school seniors.

“The purpose of the week-long academy is to reward our high-achieving students, specifically juniors that are advancing to seniors next year, by providing this special leadership oriented training,” Regan said.

Often referred to as a “week-long adventure” the program allowed students representing each public high school in Hillsborough County to take part in team building and team competitions, at the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch.

The program also included a tour of the Hillsborough County Court House, as well as a chance to get up-close-and-personal with a number of the Sheriff’s Office special units, such crime scene, Canine, SWAT, Marine or Aviation, leaving each student with plenty to digest as they reflected on their own leadership abilities.

During the course the students were broken down in to three teams, with each team led by area School Resource Deputies (SRD).

While Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee welcomed the students to the course special guest speakers including NFL star Derrick Brooks,  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay G. Trezevant for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division and singer/song writer Don Miggs, added to the course’s successful completion.

“Leadership is the influence and power to mobilize others behind a cause demonstrated by the courage and character on a daily basis,” said HCSO Chief Deputy Jose Decobo.

The academy ended with a graduation ceremony with each student receiving a certificate, laptop computer, $1,000 scholarship award, and a CD of the week’s activities.

Awards for the winners of team-building exercises, along with a fastest Physical Assessment and a Crime Scene award were a part of the festivities.

Regan emphasized that the course is fully funded by HCSO, culminating in an awards ceremony for the participants and their families.

“Our vision is for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to become a community leader in developing and rewarding successful students by enhancing our students’ abilities to become productive citizens,” she said.

For more information about the program, please visit www.hcso.Tampa.fl.us.

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