MONTGOMERY - As a sophomore at Valley Central High School in Montgomery, Cheyanne Sharp won two essay contests that offered her the privilege of attending two different leadership seminars: HOBY (Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership) at Oneonta College and RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) at Mount St. Mary College.

As a junior, she thought about how she could use what she learned about leadership in her community.

She and most of her fellow students will be graduating and moving on from the comfort of their secure environments into new, unfamiliar ones. She wanted to arm them with the knowledge of how to protect themselves in dangerous situations.

Cheyanne reached out to Mike Barnard and his wife, Kim, of Han Ho Martial Arts in Walden, to present a practical self-defense course in May for women at Valley Central High School - a course that would teach them how to be aware of their surroundings, how to avoid dangerous situations, and how to physically protect themselves if necessary.

The first session was an informational lecture and the second session was a hands-on defensive tactics class.