The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 9, 2012

Students’ focus is a better community

— “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.

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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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