March 14, 2020
Regional Youth Leadership
One Thursday out of every month you won’t find me in Calculus or English. I might be exploring local businesses, putting on a mock trial, or taking a tour of our regional economy. But one thing’s for sure: no session is the same and there’s always something new to learn. Wondering how I get to do this every month? Well, it is all because of a program called Regional Youth Leadership (RYL) that I get these opportunities.
Regional Youth Leadership is a program unique to the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region that was developed by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Because the chamber wants to ensure that a new generation of leaders in business and local development are trained to take on our region, they invest in high schoolers through this program.
“Because the program is based around the city of Cincinnati, we get to see the inner workings of our city and learn about the world we live in, our home,” said Alaina Delsignore, an SHS junior and RYL participant.
The program selects one or two junior-year applicants from each school to participate in the program with a total of 45 students. Each month, these students get the chance to explore a variety of aspects of our region including health, law, local business, and criminal justice.
If this sounds intriguing to you, this is the perfect chance to apply for the program! SHS participates in this program every year and loves sending students to represent us. Applications are open to current sophomores as the program is available to juniors. If you are interested in applying, you can see Mrs. Stephenson or Mrs. Fisher in the counseling office for details (by 2/10/2020) so that you can apply by the end of the month! But first, let me tell you a little bit about my RYL experience so you can see if it is for you.
One of the best aspects of an RYL experience is the variety of exposure you can receive to different careers and fields. Because the program is expansive enough to introduce students to many of the important fields that impact our region, it is not limited to any specific field. In the past few sessions, we have visited everywhere from hospitals to courtrooms and everything in between. With so many fields to learn about, there’s something for everyone and a good chance you’ll learn more about a career you didn’t consider before.
Personally, my favorite session was the law themed session where we visited Taft Law Firm and put on a mock trial at the Hamilton County Courthouse. Though it was interesting to learn more about careers I was already interested in, it was eye-opening to have sessions about public health, local business, and the arts as well. “The law session was my favorite as well. That is a profession I am interested in and it was really interesting to have real lawyers come in and tell us about their profession and answer some questions I didn’t have answered before,” said Delsignore. “That was one of the most surreal experiences of the program,” added Delsignore.
In addition to all the places you get to visit, the people you get to do it with are an advantage of the program as well. There are 45 student participants and they come from schools all over Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. Because some schools are more rural, some more urban, and some students being homeschooled, this program is a great opportunity to meet peers you might have otherwise never interacted with.
Everyone comes from very diverse backgrounds and that has been one of the most rewarding parts of the entire program. I have gotten to speak to students whose grades have graduating classes of only 25 kids and others who are homeschooled. It is really nice to get outside of a Sycamore “bubble” and get exposure to a variety of peers.
All in all, I hope my experience with RYL helped you get some insight into the program and maybe even consider applying. If you get the chance to attend, make sure to be an active participant because that way you will surely gain a lot of insight and exposure from the experience.
Climate Strike Takes on Black Friday
Endless lines, the constant ringing of cash registers, arms full of bags, and a swarm of shoppers hustling to find the best deals. Sound familiar? Traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday kicks off the holiday season with a consumerist explosion. But in 2019, it may just be receiving a long-awaited environmental shakeup. Just a few weeks ago, Collins Dictionary named “climate strike” 2019’s word of the year. Following the mobilization of over four million people around the world for Sep. 20 Global Climate Strike, the decision is no shock. So, it is not that surprising that Black Friday is receiving its dose of environmentalism this year.
This year, Nov. 29 will host not one but two events: Black Friday and a Climate Strike. And no, it is not a coincidence. Following a successful Global Climate Strike just a few months earlier, organizers are turning attention to events like Black Friday that attract shoppers to scoop up as much as possible, even if they do not need it. “We need to draw attention to the impact of consumerism on our environment and Black Friday is the perfect time to do so” explain Aleeza Yakoob, an organizer with Zero Hour Ohio. The timing of the strike has its intentions set on reminding consumers of their environmental impact as they shop.
So what exactly is the connection between Black Friday and Climate Strikes? Well, the number of purchases made on Black Friday and on related holidays like Cyber Monday creates a large demand for production and shipping.
“Consumerism is when the demand for goods increases and as a result so does the production of goods,” said Yakoob. Further, the impact is not just coming from loads of people going sale searching on Black Friday, but ordering millions of items on Cyber Monday as well.
According to estimates from the U.S. Postal Service, they will deliver 15 billion pieces of mail and 900 million packages between Thanksgiving and the New Year. The environmental impact of all of the shipping and production is huge and especially contributes to rising carbon emissions.
Now, the point of the strike is not to shame Black Friday shopper or villainize people for wanting to buy things, but instead to draw attention to the impact they have.
“It’s just that we as consumers need to be more mindful of our shopping habits and focusing on exactly what we need and the quality of the stuff we’re buying,” said Felicia Xiao, another Zero Hour Ohio organizer.
So while you are out shopping this holiday season, try keeping that word of the year in the back of your mind.
My first Model UN experience
From the perspective of a freshman
20 people all staring at you, all waiting for their chance to speak, your voice barely coming out as a squeak. As daunting as it seems, experiences like these are what make you better and build you up as a person.
At first glance, Model United Nations (MUN) may just seem like any other club. But after my first conference, I found that it was so much more. Learning how to be better at public speaking, overcoming the fear of speaking to strangers, and applying MUN scenarios to real-life lessons are just a few of the skills I gained through this experience.
Last Saturday, fellow sycamore students and I went to a MUN competition called WYOMUN, since it was held at Wyoming High school. For some competitors, it is already their tenth competition; for others, it is their first. WYOMUN is a good place for both experienced and inexperienced students to learn more about current events and to practice negotiating to find the best solution to a series of problems.
Reading till now, you might ask, what is MUN? MUN is an educational simulation where students learn about the relations between different countries and delegates We get to compare and contrast different countries’ ideologies and policies and learn to reach a solution that is beneficial for all the countries involved.
The competition starts with students being placed in a committee, which is made up of 15-20 people in WYOMUN. Each person represents either a country or a historical figure. Each committee is centralized around a topic. From the World Health Organization to communism, topics can vary across multiple countries and groups. The topic I received was about the Alien and Sedition Acts, which is about the first amendment and a fight between the Federal Party and the Democratic-republican Party.
Upon entering the conference room, we had to persevere to achieve their ultimate goal, which is to abolish the Alien and Sedition Acts. I represented Andrew Jackson, who at that time was a Senator, and would later become the 7th President of the United States.
Before the competition started, I was really nervous as I have never done MUN before. I was surrounded by juniors and seniors that have been doing MUN since 7th or 8th grade. Even though I was well prepared and knew the character of Andrew Jackson well, I felt like they knew so much more than me and all had so many ideas that were better than mine.
During the first committee session, I spoke once or twice. But as time passed, I began to overcome my fear. I started presenting more and more of my ideas to the other students. It felt good being able to contribute to achieving our goal. At the end of the day, we were able to abolish the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Even though I did not receive any awards, I learned so many valuable things that mean so much more to me than a piece of paper. Through this experience, I met so many amazing people, that helped me so much during the competition. For example, the girl who sat next to me, Tierney, encouraged me to speak up about my ideas and guided me through this competition. She explained unfamiliar terms to me, taught me how to write crisis notes (to pass a resolution), and approved of my ideas.
Overall, this competition helped me discover a new hobby. WYOMUN showed me both how fun MUN can be and how educational MUN is. I am looking forward to future competitions to learn more and more about both MUN and current issues!
The power of youth
Published authors, gun control advocates, climate change activists, genius programmers, and community leaders. My peers for four days at the first meeting of the Youth Collaboratory, a civic youth leadership program launched by Citizen University, could not be described as anything short of invigorating and impressive. And the most remarkable part? All 24 people were only sophomores or juniors in high school.
The program, entitled the Youth Collaboratory, was founded by Citizen University, an organization which promotes active civic engagement and community involvement in the U.S. Our 2020 cohort is the fourth year of the program. The trip to Seattle was one of three meetings of the group. The program runs a year-long session, compiling a group of sophomores or juniors from across the country to highlight a diversity of experiences, identities, and values. The result is a group with the capability to collaborate and solve the most prominent issues facing our neighborhoods, communities, cities, and country.
Amongst such an accomplished set of people, it is hard not to feel the least bit inspired. Though there are only 24 students, each one is teeming with a story, a struggle, and most importantly, a cause. As each person shared their experiences, I realized how different everyone’s background can be. From Washington to Mississippi, from New York to California, each person explained that their communities faced different problems. It was evident that each member came here with something important to say. Having been brought together to collaborate and help each other address the issues in our communities was immensely exciting.
For me, this trip affirmed a simple idea: the unrestricted power of youth. While 24 16-year-olds in a Public Library may not exactly sound like a force to be reckoned with, that is exactly what it was. In fact, I found that even in four days, the level of collaboration between a group who were virtually strangers was immense. And it was not just me that felt this way; “It was an eye-opening and life-changing opportunity” said Anum Ahmad, a sophomore from Princeton, NJ, and a member of the group. The rest of the group felt the same way, calling the experience “innovative,” “radical,” and “moving.”
For such an amazing experience, four days pass all too fast. But, until February, each of us will be busy connecting our communities by building websites, toolkits, and more. As for me, I will work towards building a website and toolkit to empower immigrants by providing resources on civic participation. Though the next meeting seems way too far away, I know the work all of us will do in our communities in the meantime will be very impactful.
To learn more about the program: