Goshen High School juniors Vanessa Keeley, Nathali Palma and Hannah Peña recently participated in the 28th Annual Angelo del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute.
The students were selected as Hudson Valley Region student-delegates, representing 99th District Assemblyman James Skoufis at a mock session of the New York State Assembly from March 10-12 in Albany.
Vanessa, Nathali and Hannah attended four training sessions run by the Hudson Valley Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network where they learned about leadership and the legislative process in New York State, engaged in independent research and practiced debating bills relevant to the Hispanic/Latinx community that were recently acted upon in the NYS Assembly.
Upon completion of the training, the students were then selected again to attend a weekend institute in Albany along with more than 200 other student-delegates across New York State. There, they participated in “Arts in Action” themed team-building workshops led by invited Latina artists involved in social activism, the mock assembly session at the NYS Assembly chamber, as well as a student recognition dinner held at the Franklin Plaza Ballroom in Troy, NY where more than $40,000 in scholarships were awarded to senior student-delegates.
Throughout the weekend, the student-delegates were addressed by NYS Education Department Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia, Deputy Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, Asst, Deputy Commissioner Lisette Colon-Collins, as well as several New York State Assembly members.
According to the program’s website, “The Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute is an innovative collaboration with the NYS Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force in conjunction with the annual SOMOS El Futuro conference, Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages, the New York State Board of Education, and other agencies.” It is a selective program extended to high-achieving junior and senior New York students of Hispanic/Latinx heritage.
Katharine González, TESOL teacher at Goshen High School, chaperoned and coordinated the students to participate in the event for the first time. “As an educator, it was an incredibly gratifying experience for me and a very empowering experience for our students,” she said. “I look forward to Goshen’s continued participation in the enriching opportunity.”