J. Kyle Braid enters final year

Ryan Swift, Dean Zigulich, Isabella McGuire, Keri Burke selected

Richie Gentile competes in the annual J. Kyle Braid dodgeball tournament.  This year is the last year JKB will be in operation.

McKenna Powers

Richie Gentile competes in the annual J. Kyle Braid dodgeball tournament. This year is the last year JKB will be in operation.

Morgan Divittorio, Staff Reporter

This year’s selections for participation in the J. Kyle Braid Foundation – boys Ryan Swift and Dean Zigulich and girls Isabella McGuire and Kerri Burke – have mixed feelings of pride and sadness at the honor.  Pride in being selected, and sadness that this year will be the last year that JKB is in operation.

The foundation has been going strong for about 20 years. The Braid family started the organization in 1994 when their son Kyle died tragically. Kyle committed suicide resulting from mood swings caused by steroid abuse.  His family started the foundation to provide students with leadership skills so that families would not have to face the tragedy of losing a child the way that they did.

“This is the last year of the J. Kyle Braid Foundation because Ken and Colleen Braid pledged to keep the Foundation running for 20 years following their son Kyle’s death.  This summer is the 20th anniversary of Kyle’s death,” JKB sponsor Jenna Osburn said.

 Each year the organization at RB goes through an extensive process to pick two girls and two boys from the sophomore class to join them. The organization looks for students who excel at academics, athletics, and overall leadership. There are specific guidelines given by the JKB organization that RB must follow when nominating candidates.

“The process of selection starts in November when coaches, teachers, and JKB alumni are asked to nominate any worthy sophomore student athletes for the award,” Osburn said. “Then in December the nominated candidates are asked to attend an informational meeting about the J. Kyle Braid award, the commitment, and the selection process.”

The process does not end there.

“Next, if candidates choose to pursue the opportunity, they must complete a resume that includes their academic and athletic accomplishments.  In addition, the candidates have to write a few short essays explaining why they want to be chosen to attend the Ranch and what they want to help change at RB upon their return from the leadership training at the J. Kyle Braid Ranch.  Finally, students must submit two letters of recommendation with their resume,” Osburn said.

The application process concludes with interviews and a final selection.

“The J. Kyle Braid Selection Committee meets to review the resumes and determine the top eight boys and the top eight girls that will be interviewed.  Next, the top sixteen students are interviewed by the selection committee and after the interviews, the selection committee chooses two boys and two girls  to send to the Ranch and two alternate boys and girls.”

Selectee Ryan Swift knew participating in JKB was a big deal.

 “I was really nervous, because there were a lot of really good candidates that were trying for the spots,” Swift said.

Swift is a sophomore who is the starting quarterback of the varsity football team, the center on the sophomore boys’ basketball, and an overall leader in the classroom. He first became interested in JKB because his older sister Nicole was chosen to be part of the organization.

“My sister is actively apart of JKB, and I really wanted to help out the school in any way that I could,” Swift said.

Isabella McGuire is on the varsity competitive cheerleading team and will compee on girls’ track and field in the Spring.  McGuire became interested in  JKB because she was interested in how they helped out the school.

“I’m really excited about the work we do with conflict resolution and the freshmen. Helping people is something JKB is all about,” she said.

After weeks of getting letters of recommendations, interviews, and putting together resumes, when the top four were picked, the hours and weeks of hard work paid off.

“I was really excited and happy when I found out I had made it. It was a huge weight lifted off my chest,” McGuire said.

Knowing that they will be among the final participants in JKB has colored the selectee’s perceptions but has not dampened their enthusiasm.

“It’s sad that we’re the last year of new students involved in JKB, but there are other leadership opportunities for the other incoming classes the next few years,” Swift said.