The entire student population at Pine Valley Jr.-Sr. High School received a legislative lesson from an individual who is well-versed on the subject.
On Friday, Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, paid a visit to the school in order to educate and motivate young minds to follow their dreams and achieve their self-imposed goals as they make their way out into the world beyond high school.
Young met with students in the auditorium for an assembly in which she was able to share some of her personal and professional background, her transition into government and inform the students of some of the current events going on in New York state government. According to Angela Bittinger, a teacher of U.S. history and government and economics, she arranged the assembly for her government-based classes, but opened it up to all students when she realized that Young's message is one that all students could relate to.
A student presents Sen. Cathy Young with a customized Pine Valley bag.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
"The purpose of the assembly is to realize what the role of government is in their lives, and to realize how to be productive citizens once they're out in the real world; which is not far off for quite a few of our students," Bittinger said prior to the assembly. "Government is much closer to them, and plays a bigger part in their lives than they realize. It's being presented by the Honors U.S. History class today, and the students are really excited to hear Senator Young speak. She grew up on a dairy farm and, because our district is a rural district, many of our students will be able to listen to the message and have it really hit home for them."
Paul Mihalko, principal of the junior-senior high school, said he was honored to have Senator Young visit his building.
"I know she's got a busy schedule, but I know she reached a lot of kids today," he said. "My government teacher, Mrs. Bittinger, brought her here and it's just nice to have a teacher that really reaches out. I liked to hear (Young) touch base on some of the issues that hit home with us."
Young began the assembly by sharing a personal story about when she was growing up on a dairy farm in Livingston County. She then outlined her progression from a reporter to state Senator, quizzing students along the way about things such as the three branches of government, the capital of New York state and who the governor of New York is. Young explained that she shared her personal stories to illustrate the importance of good work ethic.
"Any experience you can get in the work world is great," Young said. "I came from a dairy farm, and I had to work hard to get through college and I had to work in my career. But you should know that no matter what your background or where you come from, you can be successful if you roll up your sleeves and work hard. Get involved, and you will be successful."
She concluded the assembly by telling students to "go out, work hard, believe in yourselves and you'll do great."
"It's always a wonderful experience to spend time with the students, and hear firsthand what's important to them," Young said following the assembly. "They're a very, very impressive group because they seem to know a lot of their lessons about state government. So, it was a really great day."