In late October, a group of CVA students joined students from 10 other area school districts at the 20th Herkimer County Youth Summit at Herkimer BOCES. The forum provided students with the opportunity to speak candidly about real issues facing students in their home schools. The results of those conversations help inform local civic and educational leaders about teenagers concerns.
Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Mark Vivacqua welcomed the participants, reminding them little has changed since he was a principal at Poland 20 years ago. People are still unkind and uncivil, but technology and social media moves formerly private disputes into the public domain.
CVA junior Justin Jones served at the master facilitator, reviewing the day’s agenda and reminding fellow participants to have fun.
Organizers split students into groups for icebreaker activities and discussions. Students soon discovered areas of shared concern, learned of other concerns not common in their schools and learned different ways each school addresses concerns.
Students rejoined students from their home schools to choose and define an issue, brainstorm root causes of the issue, select the chief root cause or causes, develop a problem statement, brainstorm strategies, determine the best strategies, develop action plans and complete their reporting forms.
Students also presented on Stopping the Use of Smokeless Tobacco, Encouraging Open-Mindedness, Promoting a Caring Attitude and Caring School Environment and Respecting Individuality.
Herkimer BOCES culinary and hospitality students prepared lunch for the participants.
In the afternoon, ARC Health youth services director Kelly Conroy presented Respecting the LGBTQ Population.The school groups also discussed the topic of “building mutual respect.”
“Our students discover that other schools in our region have similar problems and concerns. These conversations give them a different perspective and a greater desire to help become a part of a solution,” said CVA Guidance Counselor Michelle DelConte.