High school students get leadership advice from the pros

Goshen. Local leaders conducted mock job interviews and taught workshops at the Emerging Leaders Youth Conference, a joint effort by The Accelerator, which is focused on bringing manufacturing back to the mid-Hudson Valley and the Orange County Youth Bureau.

Goshen /
25 Nov 2019 | 04:08

Andrew Marotta, the Port Jervis High School principal, told his audience of high school students about the effectiveness of telling stories when communicating with people .

He also told them what he believes are the top 10 things students need to do to be successful.

“Today I’m going to talk about taking action," he said second annual Emerging Leaders Youth Conference for sophomore, junior and senior students throughout Orange County. "Today you might get a job, something might happen that will change your career because you took the courage to come and be here and get out of your comfort zone. Your interactions matter with other people, and you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The Accelerator, a New York State incubator focused on bringing manufacturing back to the mid-Hudson Valley, recently partnered with the Orange County Youth Bureau to host the conference. Powered by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency, the Accelerator is a regional economic development team that focuses on start-up businesses. The Nov. 20 event included sessions on leadership, professional communications in the modern age, resources and resumes, and mock interview sessions.

Approximately 145 students from across the county attended the conference, which was held at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor. The students represented 15 Orange County high schools, including: S.S. Seward, Warwick Valley, Marlboro, Middletown, Orange-Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Education Program, Port Jervis, Valley Central, James I. O’Neill, Monroe-Woodbury, Newburgh Free Academy West Campus, Newburgh Free Academy, Pine Bush, Goshen, George F. Baker in Tuxedo and Cornwall.

“We are very pleased with this year’s turnout,” said Laurie Villasuso, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the Orange County IDA. “Our youth is one of the most valuable assets we have, and we want them to be able to thrive right here in Orange County. This event allowed us to equip high school students with the tools and resources that are necessary to help them become successful collegiate students and young professionals.”

Students and teachers in attendance remarked on the event’s success.

“What they learn here today they can bring back to their classrooms,” said Dennis Maher, who teaches English at Newburgh Free Academy West. “Events like these are really great for students to get more experience outside the classroom.”

“I’m excited to be here,” said Alyssa Kamara, a senior at Monroe-Woodbury High School who is hoping to attend the University of Chicago for economics and philosophy. Her goal is to go to law school. “These conferences allow us to be inspired by really notable people. I hope to widen my world view and discover new things that I wasn’t previously aware of.”

Workshop hosts:
Grace Riario, executive director, Ramapo Catskill Library System
Jose Vasquez, counselor, Orange County Youth Bureau Youth Program
Tiffany Niles, technician, Orange County Youth Bureau Youth Program
Andrew Marotta, principal, Port Jervis High School
Mock interviews:
Inaudy Esposito, Human Rights Commissioner
Christine Brinckerhoff, City of Middletown Recreation Commissioner
Steve Pack, Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Coordinator
Diahan Scott, Vice President of Outreach and External Programs at Cornerstone Healthcare
Bill Fioravanti, Orange County Economic Development Commissioner
Amanda Dana, Orange County Tourism
Eric Maldonado, owner and COO of Verizon Wireless Zone
Amal Ishak, owner of Cream Fashion Boutique of Newburgh
Maureen Jagos, director of the Chester Public Library
Tim McElduff, Orange County Surrogate Court Judge
Elaine Morgan, Aetna Community Health Partners
MaryAlice Kovatch, ADAC prevention educator
Col. Kristopher Geis, NYANG Chief of Staff, 105th Airlift Wing Stewart ANGB
Andrew Carnright, Orange-Ulster BOCES Director of Adult and Continuing Education
Rosie-Otero Walsh, retired NYPD officer and Wallkill Police Youth Coalition coordinator
Barbara Martinez, public relations for Orange County Probation and Orange County Chamber of Commerce
John Faggione, director of Port Jervis Recreation
Ingrid Hill, Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H/youth development resource dducator
J.T. Grodecki, Cornell Cooperative Extension teen leadership and career development coordinator
Ramona Burton, Maternal Infant Service Network, director of Youth Services
Raeylynn Bertholf, Middletown assistant superintendent of recreation
Malinda Ware, Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development issue leader
Grace Riario, executive director, Ramapo Catskill Library System
“These conferences allow us to be inspired by really notable people. I hope to widen my world view and discover new things that I wasn’t previously aware of.”
Alyssa Kamara, Monroe-Woodbury High School