2014 Student Achievement Award Announced

Rye, NY, May 30, 2014 -- Samuel (Sam) Lawhon, an 11th grader from Rye Neck High School, has been chosen by the League of Women Voters of Rye, Rye Brook & Port Chester to receive its 2014 Student Civic Achievement Award. This is the inaugural year of the award. It will be given annually to a high school student who lives in and attends a high school in the City of Rye, Villages of Rye Brook and Port Chester, or the Rye Neck section of the Town of Rye, in recognition of the student’s overall contributions to his or her school and community in the areas of civic engagement, advocacy, leadership or voter education.  
 Sam is a member of his award winning high school's Mock Trial Team, has participated in the Tools for Change research project sponsored in part by the League and the Town of Rye, is a co-founder and President of the Student Awareness Coalition at Rye Neck High School which seeks to raise awareness of human rights abuses, is a member of his school's Student Senate, and has conducted his own research on the influence of current events knowledge on high school students. This summer Sam will attend a program at Columbia University entitled "Leadership in Law." 
In his application essay, Sam commented, "… I am in the midst of processing data for my own research project to investigate high school students' awareness of both national and international current events. This concept is extremely important to me because I believe that in order to preserve our democratic values, our country must have a politically informed and aware populace."
We congratulate Sam on being the recipient of the 2014 Student Civic Achievement Award. 

2014 Students Inside Albany Report

The 2014 Students Inside Albany Conference had 60 attendees representing 40 local Leagues, MAL Units and ILO’s. The students came from all over New York State from Long Island to Buffalo and Plattsburgh to Binghamton. They ranged from freshmen to seniors in high school. They were energetic and enthusiastic to learn about New York State government.

On Sunday evening, Karen Bonventre, Social Studies Teacher at Shenendehowa High School and former President of the LWV of Albany County, presented information on the roles of the various branches of New York State government and the differences between the state government and the other levels of government, eg, national and local.

On Monday, the students toured the state Capitol and heard about whose faces are on those engraved stones and the secret of the fireplaces in the Senate Chambers.  League Legislative Director, Barbara Bartoletti, then provided them with the do’s and don’ts of lobbying the legislators – how to approach them, make your arguments and be persuasive. Assemblymembers Pat Fahy and Peter Lopez then joined the group to allow all students to role play. Students were able to approach the legislators and lobby them on an issue of the student’s choice. The legislators were wonderful to engage with the students in this activity.

During lunch, Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government, joined the Conference to speak to the students about FOIA and how to access information in their communities and throughout the government. Bob’s presentation was very interactive as he talked with the students about the specific issues within their own communities.

In the afternoon, the students were directed to find their Assemblymember’s offices and shadow their legislator. All of the students were escorted onto the Assembly and introduced on the floor of the Chamber. They viewed the legislators at their desks and the Chamber in session. This day was the Annual Disability Awareness Day in the Assembly so there were more visitors than usual and the bills being considered focused on issues related to the protection of individuals with disabilities from discrimination, increased access to necessary services and the improvement in the quality of life for disabled individuals.

After dinner, Casey Seiler, Capital Bureau Chief for the Times Union, and Jimmy Vielkind, Chief of Albany Bureau, Capitol New York, discussed the role of the media in covering and influencing public policy decisions. They also discussed the tension between the increased speed of media coverage due in large part to the growth of social media and the constant need to confirm sources and information.

On Tuesday, Billy Easton, Executive Director, and Jasmine Gripper, Education Advocate, both from the Alliance for Quality Education, presented information to the students on education issues and the methods they use to advocate for these issues. The topic was of particular interest to the students who asked many questions on financing education, but also the hot topics of Common Core and APPR. Jessica Wisneski, Legislative and Campaigns Director for Citizens Action of NY, also spoke to the students about their activities in lobbying, but focused more on their strategies for enlisting the public in advocating for change.

    Rye Student Chosen to Attend
 "Students Inside Albany" Conference

Rye, NY, May 12, 2014 – The Rye, Rye Brook & Port Chester chapter of the League of Women Voters announced today that MacGuire (Mac) Killian, a 9th grader from Rye High School, has been chosen to attend this year’s Students Inside Albany program sponsored by the League of Women Voters of New York State Education Foundation. This thirteenth annual Students Inside Albany program runs from May 18-21, and will bring approximately 60 students from across the state to Albany to get a first-hand education about their state government. The program is designed to increase high school students' awareness of their responsibility in representative government and provide information about the tools necessary for meeting that responsibility.
While at the conference, students will join their peers in a hands-on learning experience about how state government works.  Students will participate in a series of interactive lectures on topics such as the state budget process, the role of lobbyists in the legislative process, citizen rights to access government information, the role of media in politics, and the move to reform state government.  While in Albany, the students will have an opportunity to tour the state’s Capitol. The highlight for most students is the opportunity to shadow their Senator and their Assembly member for afternoon attending sessions on the Chamber floor.
In his application essay, Mac commented, “If I understand the legislative process, I would be better able to contribute to helping my community and state in dealing with these issues.  I would like to meet other kids around New York to share ideas and opinions and what they think are the issues facing our state.”

Congratulations to Mac!

Tools For Change 2014
 Final Presentation was held on May 20th at 8:00 Town Hall.

After much discussion and investigation into an issue being dealt with by many local communities, the students of the Tools For Change Seminar decided to studyHow do current challenges effect the ability of community organizations’ to address hunger?
Unlike in years past when the students have gone into the field to canvas local residents, a focus group made up of leaders of hunger related community organizations will be interviewed by the students to discuss the various challenges and strategies employed to deal with this difficult issue.

To make a tax deductible contribution to support Tools for Change click on the button below. Specify the word Tools on the reference line. 

League of Women Voters of New York
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