Students’ Civic Projects Funded at Youth Leadership Graduation

Pennsylvania College of Technology recently hosted a ceremony for graduates of its annual Youth Leadership Program, announcing winners of the initiative’s Social Change Competition.

Thirty 11th-graders from 10 secondary schools participated throughout the year in the program, designed to educate and motivate them to understand community needs and take an active leadership role in addressing them. This is the seventh year that Penn College has operated the program, which was facilitated by Anthony J. Pace, director of student activities; Sal Vitko, assistant director of student activities for student organizations/orientation; and Shelley L. Moore, director of career services.

As part of the Youth Leadership experience, each school team is challenged to identify a need in its community, develop a plan to address it, propose that plan to judges and, if funded as one of the top proposals, implement it.

Some members of this year's Penn College Youth Leadership Program class gather at the close of their on-campus graduation ceremony.

This year’s winning teams, each awarded $800 for their respective project:

Hughesville High School students (from left) Emilie Detweiler, Jacob Reynolds and Samantha Thompson were awarded $800 for their plan to build a sensory garden at the Hughesville Public Library.

Hughesville High School – The group noticed a shortage of patrons at Hughesville Area Public Library, as well as underutilized green space. The students plan to advocate for use of the library and to build a sensory garden to supplement and expand its children’s programming. The group hopes to impact the community at large, but specifically children and those with special needs. This project was believed to show a great deal of collaboration between the students and local residents. Funding will be used to purchase mulch, pavers, a flower table, potting soil, plants and other landscaping materials.

Montgomery Area High School students (from left) Oscar Garcia, Maddie Solano-LaForme and Zofina Fink were awarded $800 toward creation of hands-on space for career exploration.

Montgomery Area High School – The students determined there was a shortage of safe gathering space and areas for hands-on learning for the youth of their community. The group plans to implement the Kids Connect program, which provides a secure setting for children to create, invent and inspire through interactive projects. This teamwork-based approach encourages students to learn more about careers in fields related to architecture, design, medical and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). Funding will be used to buy physics materials and kits for computer coding, architectural building and engineering.

“This year’s funded projects were well-thought-out, expertly presented and great examples of the positive change we can have in our communities,” Pace said.

The 2017 Youth Leadership graduates and their schools are:

Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour talks with Youth Leadership graduates in the Thompson Professional Development Center.

Emilie Detweiler, Jacob Reynolds and Samantha Thompson, Hughesville High School; Luke Bischof, Gabrielle Fries and Alexandria George, Jersey Shore Area High School; Breanna Brown, Samuel Newton and Kaitlin Welker, Loyalsock Township High School; Zofina Fink, Oscar Garcia and Maddie Solano-LaForme, Montgomery Area High School; Madelyn McDonald, Dalton Tubbs and Luke Warnecke, Montoursville Area High School; Tonya Bryson, Alexandra Jacquez-Armenta and Makenna Snyder, Muncy Jr./Sr. High School; Kaycie Gerrity, Casey McKimpson and Noah Persun, St. John Neumann Regional Academy; Charles Bolay, Sarah Persun and Kamran Shams, South Williamsport Jr./Sr. High School; Alex Baumunk, Noah Brown and Sarah Gibbs, Sullivan County High School; and Kyle Andrews, Jordan Kelley and Michael LeBlanc, Williamsport Area High School.

Judges for the Social Change Competition were William J. Martin and Debra M. Miller, of Penn College, and Dawn M. Linn, vice president of planned philanthropy for the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Photos by Tia G. La, student photographer