The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 25, 2014

Leadership conference sparks mentor program

JOHNSTOWN — After the six student representatives from Conemaugh Valley High School returned from the T-D Youth Leadership Seminar, high school guidance counselor Laurie Semelsberger said she noticed a sense of empowerment about them.

Not only did the students devise a mentoring program for the school’s incoming seventh-graders to fulfill the seminar’s community project requirement, Semelsberger said more is in the works.

“There’s good packages in small schools. There’s good students in small schools,” she said. “A lot of times, the small schools get overlooked because we don’t have the money and the big programs, but even with little resources, you can do a lot if you have good kids.

“And we have great kids. ... They’re doers. You mention one thing – they’re going to go with it.

“This program prodded them to get motivated to do other things in the school,” Semelsberger said.

The students said they chose to provide the incoming underclassmen with mentors because they felt good role models are hard to come by these days. With the program, which is set to begin during the school’s May orientation, the wide-eyed newcomers can have peer support that the coordinators feel ultimately will help bring the student body closer to one another.

“We feel like we’re getting too separated as a school,” sophomore Brandon Galasso said. “We’re splitting into the jocks and the people involved in out-of-school activities. We don’t want to lose the whole school. We want to unite them all together.”

Students who sign up to be mentors must maintain a 90 percent grade point average between all their classes and be enrolled in at least two extracurricular activities.

Junior Mikayla Lint said she felt that involvement was crucial to secondary school development. She proposed that portfolios about all the mentors be made available to the mentees, with pictures, activities, sports and other relatable information that will help the youngsters identify with the upperclassmen.

Mentors’ email addresses also will be provided, to help the students get in touch if they feel overwhelmed by the “newbie” experience. Semelsberger said the leadership group has set at least three checkpoints throughout the year when the mentors will make sure their charges feel at home.

“We’ve been through the things they’re going through and their parents might not understand because they didn’t have what we have when they were kids,” said Lint, referring to modern issues like cyberbullying. “We can connect with them easier and show them different ways to deal with things that their parents might not be able to do.”

An activity fair is also in the works – much like a college fair, Semelsberger said – where the seventh-graders can learn about ways they can involve themselves during their six years at the school and build varied relationships along the way.

Galasso said there are about 60 incoming seventh-graders for the 2014-2015 school year.

“If there were 10 upperclassmen taking five (seventh-graders) each, it could make a difference,” he said.

“We feel like they need someone to take them under their wing.”

Sophomore Megan Paonessa said the theme of togetherness was inspired during the T-D Youth Leadership Seminar.

“I think it made us realize that unity is important and unity is behind the structure of every sort of organization,” she said.

“If we can unify our school, we can make our school better.”

Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/JustinDennis.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • smothers ‘It breaks my heart’: Shooting victim’s death leaves trail of shattered lives

    Victoria Smothers knows what people thought when they heard that a young black male had been shot to death in Moxham last week.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • School violence studied

    On a typical day last year, Pennsylvania schools caught 11 students toting weapons similar to ones used to slash 21 students and a security guard at a Pittsburgh-area high school, according to the state Department of Education. An untold number of others likely brought weapons to school but weren’t caught, safety experts say.

    April 16, 2014

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 17, 2014

  • egg hunt17 ACRP quietly notes 25th anniversary

    There will be little or no fanfare accompanying Alternative Community Resource Program’s 25th anniversary.
    And that’s how the executive director, Frank Janakovic, wants it.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • windber17 Windber students earn top ‘Overchiever’ rank

    Windber Area school’s PSSA scores have been tops in the region for the past several years.
    This year, they’re among the head of the class statewide, Pittsburgh Business Times annual Schools Guide shows.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wise, Charles Police charge bank robbery suspect

    A Johnstown man was jailed on $250,000 bond after police said he robbed the West End Branch of AmeriServ Financial. Charles Wise, 48, of Barron Avenue, was charged with two counts of robbery.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Inmate awaits sentencing for assault on guard

    A former inmate faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced for assaulting a corrections officer at State Correctional Institution-Somerset, authorities said.

    April 16, 2014

  • windber pool Pool stays afloat despite troubles

    When a valve broke at the Windber Recreation Park pool last month, its municipal authority caretakers feared that meant the end for the pool’s aged, much-patched liner.
    But the old liner has held up – a stroke of luck that will save Windber Municipal Authority from having to seek a line of credit to cover repairs or risk delaying the pool opening, the authority’s recreation director, C.W. Beckley, said.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creativity blossoming for spring art show

    The 16th annual Art in Bloom spring art show will brighten the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg from noon to 6 p.m. April 26 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27.

    April 16, 2014

  • Alcatraz Challenge offers escape from routine

    Greater Johnstown Community YMCA is gearing up for its indoor biathlon, the Alcatraz Challenge.

    April 16, 2014

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads