Portrait of a Graduate in Action: WVHS students lobby for youth program funding


Portrait of a Graduate in Action: WVHS students lobby for youth program funding

March 13, 2024

Portrait of a Graduate in Action is a regular feature on our website that aims to further elucidate the Warwick Valley Central School District’s Portrait of a Graduate, which represents the district’s aspirational teaching and learning goals for graduating collaborators, communicators, creators and innovators, ethical and global citizens, resilient individuals, problem-solvers and life-long learners.

On February 6, 2024, four Warwick Valley High School students traveled to Albany to advocate for funding for the Orange County Youth Bureau. The bureau promotes positive youth development by planning, funding, monitoring, coordinating and developing youth and family services programs throughout Orange County. The very active Orange County bureau is part of the larger Association of New York State Youth Bureaus (ANYSYB), a statewide organization also focused on developing and advocating for positive youth programs and supports. The Orange County Youth Bureau is headed by the ANYSYB’s 1st Vice President, Rachel Wilson, who encouraged the Albany trip.

So… off to Albany went WVHS students Sophie Amato, Grace Cornelius, Lucas Cresser and Harry Piskadlo! The group was supervised by Kerry Malone-Demetroules, who is the Youth Coordinator for the Warwick Valley Prevention Coalition and the Warwick Valley Community Center, where these four students are regular contributors.

“Locally, these students are all involved with us at the Warwick Valley Community Center,” said Ms. Malone-Demetroules. “They’re involved with programs such as the Summer Youth Leadership Academy and our Youth Advisory Board.”

At the NYS Capitol, the students held individual meetings with NYS Senator James Skoufis (42nd Senate District), Assemblywoman Eileen M. Gunther (Dist. 100), and Assemblymen Brian Maher (Dis. 101) and Karl Brabenec (Dist. 98). During their meetings, the students each shared why they love the activities and opportunities available to them through the Warwick Valley Community Center, and what those activities have meant to them.

The WVCSD Portrait of a Graduate articulates the Warwick community’s vision for the skills, attributes and dispositions that every Warwick Valley graduate should possess. It places an emphasis on relationships, experiential learning, student choice, group collaboration and the development of enduring academic, interpersonal and critical thinking skills. We want every Warwick graduate to be uniquely prepared to take advantage of the opportunities they have to make a positive impact on their community, and do so in ways that help them find purpose and achieve success.

In particular, the attribute of being Ethical and Global Citizens means that an individual strives to explore and understand a variety of cultures outside their own. They consider the issues of the day through the lens of local, national, and global perspectives, from social issues to environmental issues. Most of all, these types of people are community-minded and exhibit empathy, compassion and respect for others.

Although this particular visit to Albany was not a district-sponsored activity, it was led by groups with close ties to the school community, and provided the four students with a unique and meaningful opportunity to act on their civic-mindedness. Through her work with the district as part of the Youth Center and the Prevention Coalition, Ms. Malone-Demetroules has seen, firsthand, the many ways in which Portrait of a Graduate tenets are nurtured across all grade levels the district.

“It is clear to me that these four students are on their way to becoming global and ethical citizens,” she said. “They’ve exhibited an awareness of the broader needs of the young population around them, and exhibited such confidence and conviction in going to Albany to lobby for what they value.”

The students also enjoyed the in-person civics lesson aspect of the trip.

“It was fun for them to experience the Capitol, and learn about things like the state budget, the writing of bills, and what it takes to get legislation passed,” explained Ms. Malone-Demetroules.

Did the trip inspire any thoughts of running for political office?

“Well, they did get to learn the process of becoming a representative,” said Ms. Malone-Demetroules. 


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