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Ritenour High School Senior Earns 2020 Future Leaders Award by YWCA

Ritenour High School senior Kayla Anne Baker, received the prestigious Metro St. Louis YWCA Future Leaders Award and was honored virtually on Dec. 3, 2020 as part of the organization’s 40th annual leadership celebration. 

Kayla Anne Baker Each year, the YWCA honors nine adult women and a high school senior for their accomplishments and leadership in the categories of entrepreneurship, education, government, the arts, media, the professions, health care management, science, racial justice and philanthropy. Due to the pandemic, this year’s celebration was held virtually and included videos highlighting each honoree’s personal leadership in the community. 

To view highlights of Baker, click here. To view the entire leadership celebration, click here.

“Highlighting their accomplishments provides role models for younger women and girls, and illustrates why efforts for equality and pay parity must continue,” said Laurie Waters of the YWCA.

For the Future Leader Award, Baker was selected from among a group of high school leaders who attended the Y’s week-long leadership academy this summer, which was held virtually due to COVID-19. The summer program included team building exercises, essays, college prep exercises, and other activities designed to bring out a girl's leadership and service skills. As part of the award, Baker received a $1,500 scholarship. 

Baker said her experience as part of the summer academy exceeded her expectations.

“I walked into the YWCA academy hoping to find a way to fund my future, but realized a few days in that the experience of meeting so many brilliant women was invaluable,” said Baker.

Being selected for the award and scholarship that stemmed from the academy came as a surprise.

“In all honesty, I didn’t think I would be selected,” said Baker. “I stayed because I enjoyed it. I knew I would get to see some of the most deserving women succeed, and nothing can compare to that.”

Baker said the friendships she made as part of the academy have been important to her, and is proud of a poetry book that they wrote together titled, “To Be (a) Human.” 

In Ritenour, Baker was selected in January 2019 as the first student advisor to sit on the Board of Education, where she has been a strong voice for students. In addition to being a Husky honor roll student, she is dual enrolled at St. Louis Community College. 

As an ambassador for the St. Louis Regional Health Commission’s Alive & Well initiative at RHS, Baker has been a strong advocate for creating calming rooms in the school that allow students to de-stress in a safe and nurturing environment. She is passionate about theatre and musical theatre, and has starred in several RHS productions:  as Olive in the RHS production of “The Odd Couple,” Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” Chip in “Beauty and the Beast” and Ms. Fezziwig in “A Christmas Carol.” She also writes for the Pepper Box.