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Normandy Sophomores Excel in ESC Student Leadership Institute

May 27, 2022

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Five sophomores from Normandy High School are working to make a difference in their school and the district thanks to the Educational Service Center’s First Ring Student Leadership Institute.

Trey Brosemer, Lynden Bryant, Francesca Bubnick, Carleigh Greene, and Morgan Tomblin were selected by their principal to represent Parma City School District in the two-year program. 

Students also have two teacher mentors, Bill Forney and Lynn Monaco, who will support them throughout the program.

In the first year, students investigate an issue at their school or a problem they see among students. Then, they work as a team to compile research, discuss with students from other schools, and brainstorm solutions to their issue or problem. Teams present their projects at a culminating event held in May for superintendents and other school leaders from the First Ring.

Next year, as juniors, students will continue to develop their leadership skills and serve as mentors to the new sophomores who will be joining the program.

Normandy students identified mental health as their issue among their peers in their school.

Through polls and surveys, student leaders asked their peers about things like vaping and relationships, as well as interviewed teachers and counselors on a variety of topics impacting the student body.

They realized that many of the topics fell under the mental health umbrella, and from that point, they worked to find solutions.  

The group was surprised to learn that their peers are going through many of the problems or issues that they have faced or have helped a friend go through, and they were eager to find solutions so all students can get the support or help they need.

“83% of the students we surveyed didn’t know about any mental health resources,” Bubnick explained. “This was surprising and not surprising because there were some things that we didn’t know about either. We also found out that 50% of students are experiencing some sort of mental health problem for two years or longer, which is a long time to be dealing with that with minimal or no help.”

Leaders provided three solutions to their school’s mental health problem: 1. creating a mental health resource assembly for all students to attend at the beginning of the year, 2. creating mental health campaigns that promote all the resources available to students, and  3. hiring a non-insurance mental health therapist for students.

“I hope that our voices were heard by our superintendent and school administration and that we represented our peers,” Bryant shared. “I hope all of our hard work pays off. We want to be advocates for other students who can’t speak up or are scared to speak up.”

Tomblin added that she hopes other schools who heard their presentation will think about their students and make a change in their schools and their districts.

The group agreed that they want more students to get the resources and help they need. In addition, they are grateful that this has brought awareness to school and district administration that there is a mental health problem and that there are ways to help students.

Students also enjoyed meeting other students from other districts and working as a team to develop leadership and communication skills.

“The first session with these students was amazing, especially how quickly they coalesced as a group,” Forney expressed. “This team just thrived and quickly narrowed down what they wanted to work on. It was neat to see them work together and work together with the other schools. They would get feedback from other schools and, quite honestly, there was little that Lynn and I would need to facilitate because they were very good about shaping the direction of what they were doing on their own.”

Monaco added that it was wonderful to see each student come in with different perspectives but have mutual respect and willingness to compromise for the good of the team and to watch students grow in their confidence.

The student leaders said that it was a great experience and hope other students would participate because it did have a positive impact on them.

“I’m glad that I was selected for this experience because it truly has been an experience,” Tomblin shared. “Before I was chosen for this, I never really thought of anyone else in terms of their mental health and what they could be going through or even what our school has to offer. I was just worried about school, but this opened a whole new door for me, and I can see there are problems that need to be fixed and there are things we can do to help.”

“When I was selected, I was a little hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure what we would be doing throughout the year, but when we went to the first meeting, we all hit it off really well and talked about all kinds of things,” Bubnick expressed. “It really opened my mind to new perspectives.”

“I didn’t know what to expect and I was hesitant,” Greene described. “I didn’t know what our topic was going to be, but I’m happy I am part of it.”

“It helped me a lot to see other views and perspectives about mental health,” Bryant shared. “It made me care a lot more about other people and what they are going through.”

“It really opened my eyes to things, because when I first joined, I didn’t know how much of an impact we could really make, but now I see that five students can make an impact on our school,” Brosemer expressed. “I hope our superintendent takes our suggestions into consideration; we can help so many people. I am thankful for being a part of this.”