The first Citizenship Conference at Irondequoit High School was designed to encourage seniors to become more civically involved with their community and the two-plus hour event was a success Jan. 18
“A lot of (seniors) are not sure what their next steps are. Some of them think they know what their next steps are and that may change. Seniors seemed to be very engaged and interested,” said IHS teacher Jamie Armstrong, a member of the Social Students Department, led by Curriculum Supervisor Kim Cristal, that organized the afternoon of learning. “You can see the maturity of the seniors. No one is on their phones right now. Everyone is looking and taking notes. People are asking some pretty difficult questions.”
After the keynote address by town of Irondequoit Supervisor and IHS graduate David Seeley, students went to 10 breakout rooms — in classrooms and the library — that featured different presenters. The list included Adam Bello, Monroe County clerk and former Irondequoit supervisor; James Brennan, West Irondequoit Schools deputy superintendent of finance; Ann Burns, Helping Irondequoit Plan Progress, co-chair/founder; Abigail Deacon, AmeriCorps VISTA; Laura Mecca-Retzlaff, NYS Council/Social Studies president; Kit Miller, M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence; Abby Moynihan and Tim Guillemette, Flower City Habitat for Humanity; Mike Nolan, I-Square, owner; Elaine Spaull, Rochester City Council member, Center for youth director; and Richard Tantalo, Irondequoit chief of police.
Mecca-Retzlaff said she hopes students left her presentation “encouraged about civic engagement and that they want to be a part of the communities that they belong to and make contributions to (them).”
Guillemette, the manager of the family services branch of Flower City Habitat for Humanity, detailed to students how habitat for humanity was birthed from regular citizens becoming civically engaged in their community. He hopes students “see that very small communities can cause massive change.”
The dialogue was lively but like many events in their infancy it can be even better, Armstrong said.
“We are hoping that it will grow, that we will have a bunch of speakers returning and that we will add some,” said Armstrong.