Three Center for Career and Technology Education (CCTE) students earned a seat on the Texas Standing Tall Youth Leadership Council.
Texans Standing Tall selected the youth leaders to work in partnership with TST, to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. Each Youth Leadership Council member is actively involved in numerous leadership opportunities to create healthier and safer communities while building upon their leadership skills.
Throughout the year, members are required to complete a prevention project in their community and help prepare about presentation for TST’s 2016 Statewide Summit. The members serve a one-year term from October through September.
Representing EPISD and CCTE are: Ahmaris Lechuga, Jefferson High; Marlene Silva, Franklin High; and Nikolai Petty, Chapin High. They are among six students from the El Paso area named to the council.
“I was really happy to be accepted because this is something I really wanted to be a part of,” Petty said. “I look forward to being part of an organization that will benefit the community.”
The students heard about the organization in their law enforcement class at CCTE. Teacher Sylvia Garcia encouraged students to apply and be leaders among their fellow students.
“It is incredible for them to tackle such a big issues at their level and to be able to educate their peers,” Garcia said. “When they learn how to do that and do it appropriately, they don’t fear it anymore. Now they can actually learn to say ‘no’ and tell them why it’s bad.”
To be part of the council, students must submit an application and then undergo a phone interview. Students are selected for not only their academic achievement but for their abilities to serve as exemplary role models at their school campuses.
“They monitor the students’ social media and take a look at their social responsibility,” Garcia said. “They are going to be teaching others so it is really important they are modeling proper behavior.”
This is the second year senior Ahmaris Lechuga participates in the organization, which she says has taught her how to talk to her peers about the dangers of alcohol and drug use.
“The way this program has benefited me is now when people ask me about alcohol I can provide the information I have learned to educate them about it,” Lechuga said.
Beyond providing information for their peers and modeling good behavior students also work at affecting real change. The students are charged with a mission to do research and look at all the factors that are impacting underage drinking and drug use.
At the end of the program year we take all our research and present it in Austin to legislators,” Lechuga said. “This past year our main goal was for them to be aware of these issues and raise the taxes on alcoholic drinks.”
Senior Marlene Silva is looking forward to providing important information for her peers.
“Being part of this organization is going to teach me how to help other kids that are struggling with alcohol or drugs,” Silva said. “I can help them by showing them that there is more to life than that. There’s other ways of having fun.”
For Silva, alcohol use is something has personally affected her.
“To me it’s important, and it’s a big deal because I have had family members who have dealt with these issues, so if I can help a student stop that behavior now as a teenager it would mean a lot to me.”