Henry Clay senior is named Youth Achiever of the Year at YMCA Black Achievers banquet

kward1@herald-leader.comApril 19, 2014 

The YMCA of Central Kentucky on Saturday night honored young people and the individuals and organizations that have supported them.

James Leavell-Greene, a senior at Henry Clay High School, was named youth achiever of the year at the YMCA's annual Black Achievers Scholarship and Awards Banquet.

He said the honor is special to him because Black Achievers has been an important part of his life since seventh grade.

"It's just been a great program," he said. "I've made a lot of friends, a lot of mentors, a lot of role models."

He plans to study biomedical engineering at the University of Louisville beginning this fall. He said he would like to pursue a career in stem cell research.

The Black Achievers program has awarded more than $10.5 million in scholarships and provided mentoring to 8,500 students over the past 29 years.

Leavell-Greene said the program is good for networking and does a nice job of preparing students to succeed in college.

William Henry "Bill" Smith was posthumously honored with the special achiever award for his efforts to help transform the Second Street Branch YMCA.

Smith, who died last year at age 83, was described in the program for the event as "a one-man gang, pouring all of his energy into giving African-American kids their first camping experience, involving them in sporting events, leadership clubs and social activities."

Others honored at Saturday night's banquet included the Jessamine County CARES Group and Mount Sterling DuBois Community Center, which were named Volunteer of the Year groups.

Several fraternities and sororities were named community achievers for their work in mentoring youth. They are the Lexington Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Omega Psi Phi fraternity and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity's Alpha Beta Lambda chapter.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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