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Encouraging Student Voices at PAL Conference

Trading places can be a good thing. At the Principals, Advisors and Leaders Conference held at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES last week, student leaders from Somers High School and nine other schools across the region had the opportunity to do just that.


“It’s very interesting for a student to see things from an administrator’s viewpoint regarding a proposed activity,” said Roberta Bittel, Executive Director of the New York Council on Leadership Student Activities, the conference sponsor. “Sharing perspectives is a great way to learn and nurture leadership.”

Somers High School sent eight participants to the conference: junior Kyle Chouinard, student council president; senior Samantha Reyes, student council treasurer; Laurence Shaw, junior class president; Tim McCormack, senior class president; Rebecca Herbert, freshmen class president; Doreen Stoeker and Brenda O’Shea, student council advisors; and Principal Mark Bayer.


Bayer noted that Somers students have attended previous NYCLSA conferences, returning to school rejuvenated and full of school spirit. “We all benefit when we empower student voices,” he said. “These students come back to school and share that energy with their peers.”


The all-day conference included a morning session where students, advisors and administrators met with their counterparts from other school districts to share experiences and successes and an afternoon session that involved each district preparing an action plan for future activities and initiatives.


“The goal is to help open our students’ eyes to having a voice and create a tradition of empowerment,” said O’Shea.


Marla Gardner, Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES’ director of Curriculum and Instructional Services, which hosted the event, said, “It is important to support student voice, leadership and engagement. This event helped us to do that in our region.”

L to R: Kyle Chouinard, Sammi Reyes, Tim McCormack, Brenda O’Shea, Doreen Stoecker, Laurence Shaw, Mark Bayer, Rebecca Herbert