Youth Programs

East Chapel Hill Rotary offers several programs to engage with and support the youth in our community. From essay contests to international exchanges, we invite interested, service-oriented youth to learn more about our philosophy of “Service Above Self.”


Youth Exchange

4-Way Essay Contest

Service Above Self Contest

Julienne Reynolds (ECHHS), right, was selected for the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA).

RYLA – Rotary Youth Leadership Academy

RYLA is an annual leadership weekend for select high school juniors, typically held in April. RYLA is a fun, intensive learning experience where students develop leadership skills and have a great time at a beautiful YMCA camp about one hour from Chapel Hill. The leadership exercises at RYLA help the awardees develop communication and problem-solving skills, discover strategies for being an effective leader and unlock the potential to turn motivation into action.

RYLA awardees are selected by an application process that considers academics, service, athletics, and community involvement. The application process begins in the fall and concludes in December.

What are the benefits for RYLA awardees?

  • Connect with leaders in your community and around the world to:
  • Develop communication and problem-solving skills
  • Discover strategies for becoming an effective leader
  • Unlock your potential to turn motivation into action
  • Have fun and form lasting friendships

Youth Exchange

East Chapel Hill Rotary offers high school students two opportunities to travel overseas –  the Long Term and the Short Term Exchange. Eligible students must be between 15 and 18 1/2 years old on August 1 of the year they commence travel. Learn more about these fabulous opportunities here:

The Long Term Exchange

This program lasts one year, living with host families and attending school in a different country. All of this is done under the sponsorship and supervision of a local host Rotary Club. Rotary‘s Long Term Exchange program is one of the world’s largest and safest youth exchange programs. 

The Short Term Exchange

This summer program provides a similar learning and cultural understanding opportunity in a summer program. Students are paired with a similarly aged student in another country, and each family hosts for about one month.

Summer 2022: We recently welcomed two local students and one international guest – (pictured l to r) Ines Moreno Andreu visiting from Spain; Evie Mount-Cors, (CHHS) and Julienne Reynolds (ECHHS). Evie just returned from Rotary Exchange in Elche, Spain and is hosting Ines in Chapel Hill. Julienne was selected for the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA).

Phillips 8th grade Leo Li won 1st prize in the 2022 East Chapel Hill Rotary 4-Way Essay Contest and at the district level, which represent 53 Rotary Clubs in the Triangle area. Pictured l to r: Leo’s mother, Jane, Leo, Lorenzo Mejia (East Chapel Hill Rotary), and Veronica Bent and (Rotary District Governor-elect).

4-Way Test Essay Contest

One of the world’s most widely quoted statements of business ethics is the 4-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor. Since then, it has been translated into more than 100 languages. Rotary clubs around the world are committed to the Rotary 4 Way Test Essay Contest to promote the principles Rotary represents. It is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. Of the things, they think say, and do, Rotarians ask these four questions, called the Four-Way Test:

The 4-Way Test

  • Is it the TRUTH?
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  • Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

The 4-Way Test Essay Contest is open to 7th and 8th graders. Contestants must write an original essay reflecting their thinking on the 4-Way Test. The specific topic may be determined by the student, but the essay must clearly show a practical application of all four points of the test.

Winners receive monetary prizes from East Chapel Hill Rotary, and first place will advance to consideration at the District level. Additional prizes may be awarded by the District.

Service Above Self Video Contest

Each spring, we invite 9th and 10th graders to participate in our “Service Above Self” Video Contest. “Service Above Self” is a motto of Rotary International and is the conceptual backbone of many of our activities.

We invite students to share their thoughts on this topic in a video not to exceed two minutes.

  • What does “Service Above Self” mean to you?
  • How can we use this motto to guide our decisions?
  • What would the world be like if everybody followed it?

It can be a project they have worked on, something that is inspiring to them, or it can convey a message they think is important.

Max Karia, an East Chapel Hill High School student, won first place in the 2022 “Service Above Self” Video Contest. In his video, Max talked about the service work he did helping his church live steam mass during the pandemic. Picture (l to r): Lorenzo Mejia (East Chapel Hill Rotary Club), Max, sister Leticia, and Max’s parents, Francis and Immaculate.