By DAVID VOEGELE
Executive director of ESSEX CHIPS

David Voegele

Last week we heard from a homeschooled youth for the first time. This week we are hearing for the first time from a 6th grader. Katie Preston is 11 years old, and the youngest youth so far profiled in this column. Katie has many interests, and a lot to say.

In regards to school she commented, “I enjoy learning more in all subjects. I participate in the sixth grade band…I’m planning to play school softball in the spring.” Katie has a very positive view of the Essex schools, and of how responsive they are to students. She feels that her voice is being heard. “For example, when I was in fifth grade at Founders, my friends and I thought it was important that we should have recess, then lunch, so we created a petition for people to sign if they were in agreement… My friend Kelsie and I went to some lunches to explain what we were doing, and we went to each table for signatures.” Over 200 students signed the petition, and the next year the school changed the schedule as requested!

Outside of school, Katie also has a lot going on. “I have lots of fun dancing at Infinity Dance Studio” Katie said. “I’ve also been involved in many softball activities such as indoor softball, and a softball clinic.” She also enjoys participating in community events, like the Vermont Birdie Bash. “The Birdie Bash was so much fun!  I really enjoyed playing badminton with my friends and playing in an amazing planned event.” Hopefully we will see Katie and her friends at the  2019 Vermont Birdie Bash on January 27th!

Katie Preston

Even though she is only in Middle School, Katie is already thinking about the future. “I plan to go to college, and possibly go into the teaching field.” She also has given thought to the role that students can play in helping to shape the future of our community. She said, “I think students shouldn’t be afraid to show their opinion on what’s happening around the community…Students should have an easier way to express their ideas and get help with executing their ideas.” Katie believes youth can help strengthen our community, and that students have ideas about how to do this. She also believes youth need opportunities to articulate those ideas, and support in bringing them to fruition. Perhaps a community youth council, or an annual youth conference, would be ways that youth could share their ideas for strengthening the community, and then identify resources to help implement their ideas. A youth council and a youth conference are two key components of a Quality Youth Development community.

I concluded the interview by asking Katie to tell me who inspires her – outside of her family. “I admire Michelle Obama. I love how she came from so little, but became something so big, just by following her heart/dream.”

A fine role model indeed.