EMSPIRE MORE Day at GMHS

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Messenger photos by Rick Palsgrove
Jayleyana Peake (left) and McKenzie Lancaster served as hostesses and introduced several of the speakers at EMSPIRE MORE Day at Groveport Madison High School on Jan. 14. Speakers included Dr. Diandra Gordon of MORE, Inc.; Ohio District 2 State Representative Latyna Humphrey; Groveport Madison High School Assistant Principal Jeff Altman; Groveport Madison Board of Education President LaToya Dowdell-Burger; Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp; Groveport Madison Superintendent Jamie Grube; and others.

Officials at Groveport Madison High School want to give the students a “voice and choice.”

With that in mind, the officials invited MORE, Inc. (a 501c3 organization that seeks to “motivate others to reach excellence”) to present EMSPIRE MORE Day, a youth development program, at the school on Jan. 14.

According to Groveport Madison Treasurer Felicia Drummey, the EMSPIRE MORE Day event was privately funded from grants obtained by MORE, Inc. for their use so there was no charge to Groveport Madison Schools.

About 120 students participated in the six hour event that functioned similar to a youth conference. Students first heard a handful of speakers in the school’s auditorium and then split up into several classrooms to hold discussions on topics important to them including mindset/mental health, finances, and family relationships.

“We need to actively listen to our students and their needs to help provide the best education possible in a variety of ways,” said Groveport Madison High School Assistant Principal Jeff Altman. “EMSPIRE MORE Day allowed students to lead and participate in discussions that focused on social issues teenagers face, mental health, finances, parenting and at home issues, barriers to academic success, school safety and what they want to see done, community relations/perceptions, and how adolescents can be empowered to create initiative to seek change in their own communities.”

Spoken word artist and poet Ty’-Keice Cox (Tykeice Motivates) shared some of his work during EMSPIRE MORE Day.

Altman said that, by listening to the student, officials can build a stronger rapport and structure academic lessons that incorporate some of these topics.

“Educating the youth now involves much more than being fixated on mathematics, science, history, and English,” said Altman. “We also must educate and impact areas of social and emotional wellness and by hosting an event like this, we are taking a major step in that process. By allowing our students to take ownership in these discussions, they become invested in creating positive changes together with adults in our community to better serve their needs.”

Students from school districts, such as Gahanna Lincoln and Columbus, joined Groveport Madison students at the event.

“It was a great networking opportunity for these young people to connect and be empowered to want to create positive change in their communities,” said Altman. “I believe our school board did a great job of connecting with district officials in these other school districts and heard nothing but great reviews about this conference and how it led to students in their communities wanting to create powerful positive change. Groveport Madison High School is always looking for avenues to enhance our school culture and to give our students leadership opportunities. We are off to a great start to our second semester at GMHS and we want to continue to grow our students as young leaders who are invested in making our school building and community a better place for everyone.”

Speakers prior to the discussion sessions included Dr. Diandra Gordon of MORE, Inc.; Ohio District 2 State Representative Latyna Humphrey; Groveport Madison High School Assistant Principal Jeff Altman; Groveport Madison Board of Education President LaToya Dowdell-Burger; Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp; Groveport Madison Superintendent Jamie Grube; and Victoria O’Neal, a 2017 graduate of Groveport Madison High School and now a high school social worker with a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, who talked about mental health issues.

Victoria O’Neal, a 2017 graduate of Groveport Madison High School and now a high school social worker with a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, talked about mental health issues at EMPSIRE MORE Day. “We can handle what life throws at us,” she said. “We are powerful people.”

O’Neal said, “We can handle what life throws at us. We are powerful people.”

Other officials present included Judge Stephanie Mingo, of the Franklin County Environmental Court, Groveport Madison Board of Education Vice President Seth Bower, and Groveport Madison Board of Education member Chris Snyder.

Humphrey told the youths, “You are the future” while Dowdell-Burger advised the youths to be “overcomers” who can overcome an issue, but not be afraid to ask for help.

“We will listen to you to find solutions,” said Dowdell-Burger.

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