Sophomore participants in the Wyalusing Youth Leadership program visited the Bradford County Courthouse and other locations on Sept. 22. County Sheriff C.J. Walters was one of several public officials and lawyers to speak with the teens.
Photo and story by Rick Hiduk
The Wyalusing Youth Leadership Program was started three years ago as a way to build confidence and social skills among teens and to provide life lessons for them through a series of field trips and group activities.
According to group advisor Carol Goodman, the youths from Wyalusing Valley High School are dismissed from classes one day per month to take part in field trips as they study the Sean Covey guide book “7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens.” They return to school for a debriefing in the afternoon, then discuss how the experiences of the day relate to the advice offered in Covey’s book.
“The decision was made that sophomores are old enough to appreciate what this is, and they are young enough to be able to use the information while they are still in high school,” Goodman explained.
On Thursday, 16 students, Goodman and fellow advisors Herb Gery and Marsha Eaton traveled first to the Bradford County Courthouse in Towanda. In addition to learning about the duties of the Bradford County Sheriff’s Department, the teens sat in on series of bond hearings.
“Young people their age were brought in in orange suits and shackles,” Goodman related. “That was an eye opener for them. It really hit home that it is real easy to get into trouble, and you have to be aware of what you are doing.”
Afterwards, the students visited the law offices of Niemiec, Smith & Pellinger, where they had the opportunity to ask questions of attorneys Mark Smith and Scott Pellinger.
“It was amazing the stuff they brought up,” said Goodman, who noted that she measures the success of the program by the personal growth she recognizes in each of the participants.
“At the beginning of school year, some of them are so incredibly shy and can barely speak. By the end of the year, they are so much more confident. They tell us that they are no longer afraid to talk to adults. One girl told me that the program gave her her voice.”
In additional to the monthly excursions, the students also participate in two sponsored events during the summer. To see more their excursions, follow Wyalusing Youth Leadership Program on Facebook.