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High school students find their voices

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A change is occurring around us. A world influencer is growing right under our noses. There are forces at work we can not yet fully comprehend. A trend that flies in the face of conventional wisdom is burgeoning before our eyes. This movement may alarm some, it may downright frighten others, and may be very hard for many to believe to be true. This looming change is simple to put into words, but difficult to capture in nature. The idea behind it is really quite simple. As simple as this: the young folks do care. That's right -- young men and women all around us care about society. Even the millenials.

Students around our country are becoming more engaged with their communities. Involvement and activism among young people are the highest they've been in a very long time. Delta County students are also making their voices heard. Among the many efforts that have recently been undertaken by the youth in our community are two of special note -- the Delta County Student Advisory Committee and the Delta Youth Council.

The Student Advisory Committee is made up of high school students from across Delta County. It is tasked with being a visible part of, and having a voice in, Delta County School District 50J. To be involved with the committee, students must apply to the district office and be accepted. There are a handful of students from each of the four traditional high schools and the Vision Charter Academy. Each school group is active on its own campus, as well as in the greater district. The individual school groups may have goals that vary slightly from one another, but their overarching goal is to create a robust dialogue within the student body. Then, to form that peer dialogue into a monthly presentation to 50J's school board and staff. The school board will be given an "inside eye," with a frank and honest look into the lives and minds of their students, produced by the students themselves. The youngsters, in turn, may learn that life at the district office can be very challenging and is far more nuanced and complex than they had perhaps perceived. Over time, this conversation will grow and become more layered and meaningful. The hope from both sides is certainly that the Student Advisory Committee will become an integral voice within the district and create a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.

Delta's Youth Council is much the same kind of endeavor. A group of about a dozen young adults from DHS are approaching our community with civics and municipal outreach at the forefronts of their minds. Formed three years ago as a Youth City Council, the group struggled somewhat to find its footing. However, this year has seen the group expand to the county as well, and shift into the next gear under the direction of adult liaisons Elyse Casselberry and Darnell Place-Wise. Bi-weekly meetings are held at the Delta County Courthouse complex. These meetings serve as a formally structured time during which the group discusses official matters, which might include ideas about how to get more involved with the city/county government, or ways to raise social awareness amongst their peers. The official meetings are the tip of the digital iceberg though. The group conducts most of its business in the cloud. Utilizing Google Classroom, the Youth Council plans and collaborates over the internet and execute its activities at Delta High School with great efficiency.

The group currently has a particular focus on mental health. Delta High has dealt with some very dramatic circumstances in recent times and the Youth Council is well aware of this area of concern. Its work can be illustrated by finals week efforts. The council hosted a "make your own stress ball" table during lunch time. Students were invited to come fill a balloon with flour and then go about their day, relieving the stress of finals week by squeezing the tarnation out of those filled balloons.

Claire Corbasson, a DHS senior, serves on both the Student Advisory Committee and as mayor of the Youth Council. They're working together to organize student-led meetings to gain insight into student perspectives to be shared with the city, county and school board via a video montage. Five meetings are being planned, one at each high school and a combined session for Vision Charter Academy and Grand Mesa Choice Academy students.

She holds fast to a message Kathy Joseph shared at a band leadership session several years ago: "Leading others is really serving others. You never really do anything for yourself, you're doing it for the betterment of others, and if you're not doing that, then you're not leading."

"That's really stuck with me," Corbasson said, who is also involved with Student Council.

The Student Advisory Committee and the Delta Youth Council are merely a sampling of how our young people are getting involved and showing their desire to make our community a better place to live.

Photo by Pat Sunderland To relieve the anxiety of finals, the Delta Youth Council set up stations where students could make stress balls using a balloon and some flour. “People were playing with them, laughing and releasing the endorphins you need when you’re stressed,” said Claire Corbasson, mayor of the Delta Youth Council. She is also involved in Student Council. “Our biggest goal is to improve the experience of the student body at DHS,” she said.
Photo by Pat Sunderland Elyse Casselberry (left) and Darnell Place-Wise, advisors to the Delta Youth Council, handed out candy canes to Delta High School students about to start on two days of finals. Youth council members set up stations for their peers to make stress balls.
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Delta Youth Council, DHS
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