Question: How many teens does it take to make a difference?
NORTH CREEK — The Johnsburg Youth Committee is proud to present its Adirondack Teen Leadership and Service (ATLAS) first graduating class of talented high school students. On March 23, the ATLAS group, which had been meeting monthly for six months, celebrated the successful completion of the program’s first year. The high school students were handpicked by their school administrators to participate in a pilot program designed to encourage, motivate and inspire future leaders.
Joined by Tony Vacca, of Arts Are Essential in Northampton, Mass., the teens along with their parents, grandparents and friends, got together to form an impromptu band made of nothing but household scraps to create an ensemble that sounded like a well-rehearsed orchestra. The metaphor, not lost on any of the students, was that you don’t need experience, money or innate talent to make a difference in the community or in life. There is nothing that perseverance, belief and a winning attitude can’t overcome.
Following the energetic musical session was a graduation ceremony led by ATLAS founder and Johnsburg Youth Committee member Deb Morris of Barkeater Chocolates. The graduation took place in Wevertown with a catered lunch by North Creek’s Eats and Sweets. The ceremony recognized the 11 teens who participated in monthly sessions led by inspiring facilitators from upstate New York and New England. Morris said, “We have been so fortunate to have worked with these students since last fall. The goal was to teach them life lessons, but in so many ways, they have taught us.”
The ATLAS class of 2013 is Taylor Feiden and Larissa Smith from Minerva Central School; Julianna Dewer, Megan Miller, Krista Millington, Lexi Pratt and Courtney Viele from North Warren Central School; and Colleen Fuller, Sarah Morris, Sara Pierson and Shiloh Wood from Johnsburg Central School.
Speakers and sessions are already being planned for the next ATLAS program; with the selection process beginning in May. Morris adds, “Our first year was a test year. We now know what works and what can be improved upon, and we’d like to expand to other area schools for the class of 2014.”
For more information, visit the ATLAS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AdirondackTeenLeadershipAndService.