Students tackle school safety issues during Herkimer County Youth Summit at Herkimer BOCES
Oct. 31, 2018
Joseph Carney, a junior of Herkimer Central School District, speaks to other students during the 2018 Herkimer County Youth Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES. Carney served as the student master facilitator for the event for the second year in a row.
HERKIMER – The 2018 Herkimer County Youth Summit at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES focused on various aspects of school safety – including law enforcement, substance abuse, teen dating and suicide prevention.
After learning more about each topic from local experts, students from each school in attendance worked together to develop action plans for events and activities in their schools.
Herkimer Central School District junior Joseph Carney, who served as the Youth Summit student master facilitator for the second year in a row, said the Youth Summit is an important opportunity for local students to get involved.
“It’s nice to have a student point of view to try to create change,” he said.
The 2018 Herkimer County Youth Summit took place on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in East Herkimer. Students from Central Valley, Dolgeville, Little Falls, West Canada Valley, Mount Markham, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Owen D. Young, Poland, the Herkimer BOCES Pathways Academy at Remington and the Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School participated in the summit.
The Youth Summit opened with comments from Maureen Petrie, who is the Youth Summit coordinator and executive director of Catholic Charities of Herkimer County, which facilitated the Youth Summit.
“Welcome to your Youth Summit,” Petrie said. “This is about you.”
Petrie said it’s great for the community to hear from students and to give them a chance to create a positive influence at their schools.
“I like that the summit is planned and facilitated by our Herkimer County youth,” she said. “I think there’s nobody better to know what’s going on in their schools than them because that’s their experience.”
Little Falls City School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Levatino was the Youth Summit chairperson and also spoke to students.
“The Youth Summit is very important to me,” he said.
Levatino talked about the importance of perseverance through examples involving President Abraham Lincoln.
“Failure and tragedy disappear in the face of perseverance,” he said.
Carney then went over the schedule for the Youth Summit and advised his peers to be ready for the challenge of doing work that matters.
“Today won’t be easy,” he said.
Students then rotated to four “presentation stations” about the four school safety topics of the day. Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory put on the law enforcement station along with Levatino, and Catholic Charities of Herkimer County workers ran the substance abuse, teen dating and suicide prevention stations.
The suicide prevention station focused on awareness and warning signs and included an example of someone who attempted suicide and what people could have done to help along the way.
The teen dating station covered healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to know the difference – with students writing down examples of relationship behavior that isn’t love.
Discussion at the substance abuse station included the dangers of addictive tendencies, which can start early including even from caffeine. Students learned that the average onset of smoking is age 13, and that brains aren’t fully developed until people are 25.
At the law enforcement station, Jory encouraged students to share any concerns about safety with their teachers to have it passed along to principals, superintendents and then law enforcement.
“You have to funnel it up to us,” Jory said. “We’re talking about predicting, preventing and doing everything we can to stop an incident from occurring.”
Levatino followed that up with an example of an experience he went through at a different school, and he said students have a moral obligation to go to teachers or school officials when school safety is concerned.
“I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said.
Carney said the Youth Summit planning committee decided on school safety and the various topics under that to focus on. He said he thinks it’s good that students were able to get more information about the topics before coming up with their plans for their schools.
After first participating in Youth Summit as a freshman, Carney became the student master facilitator for his sophomore and junior years because of the difference he found out students could make.
“I loved creating change in my school,” he said. “I’m glad to have the opportunity to do this. I think it’s a great event.”
Little Falls City School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Levatino speaks to students during the 2018 Herkimer County Youth Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES. Levatino served as the Youth Summit chairperson.
Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory talks to students about school safety and the importance of reporting safety concerns during the 2018 Herkimer County Youth Summit on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES.