“There’s no future in Johnstown.”
It’s a sentiment that we hear far too often, and one that’s been around for decades.
We hope that the leadership seminar being held on Wednesday can help change that. Students from 13 area high schools will be part of the seminar, which is the result of a partnership among The Tribune-Democrat, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, AmeriCorps-Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps, Windber Area School District and Goodwill Industries of the Conemaugh Valley Inc.
The goal is to help high school students become better problem-solvers, innovators, collaborators and communicators all while brainstorming ideas about what they can do to better the community.
“Students in the area typically get together in competition, but they rarely come together to rally around a cause and talk about ideas they have and what changes they’d like to see for the future,” said Angie Berzonski, program and communications officer with the Community Foundation, in an article written by The Tribune-Democrat’s Kelly Urban.
Bishop Carroll, Bishop McCort, Central Cambria, Conemaugh Township Area, Conemaugh Valley, Ferndale Area, Forest Hills, Greater Johnstown, Johnstown Christian, Portage Area, Richland, Westmont Hilltop and Windber Area are participating in the event.
Each school will send four seniors, four juniors and four sophomores to the seminar, where they will meet with business and community leaders.
Smaller groups of students will discuss topics such as community issues, leadership/service, peer pressure, education/employment and resources/support.
The seminar has the potential for positive outcomes in a number of different ways:
- Students will be able to see themselves as part of a larger community. Rather than think of their community as Richland or Windber, they focus on issues that affect our region as a whole and look at ways to combat them.
- The seminar is all about leadership, and how important it can be. Rather than focusing simply on grade-point averages, schools were asked to determine attendees by their leadership potential. An event like this can help draw out that potential in students they might not even realize is there.
- Participants will be able to develop networking opportunities. Not only will they be meeting with peers who they might very well encounter again over the coming years as leaders in and around the area, but they can get to know current leaders in our area. Those contacts could be important in the next decade, as today’s youths eventually look for occupational opportunities.
- The facilitators themselves can benefit from the proceedings. Not only is it an opportunity to meet some of the region’s best and brightest students, it also offers a chance to get a different perspective on what problems are facing our area and how we can go about solving them.
The Tribune-Democrat is proud to be a part of the seminar and we look forward to continuing the program in the years to come.
After all, the voice of our youth counts, and it deserves to be heard.