Written by Matthew Ern Saturday, 29 June 2013 00:00
East Williston has a new “Summer Youth Internship” Program aimed at getting Wheatley School students involved in their community. Alum Ashley Copperstone runs the program and graduated from Wheatley in 2010. She currently attends Skidmore College as an education and history double major.
The internship program will last six weeks, from June 24 to Aug. 1. Twelve students, mostly aged 16 or younger, are signed up for this summer.
“The success of the program is dependent on them, and they realize this,” Copperstone says.
The internship is about the equivalent of a part-time job and the students will receive over 65 hours of community service, fulfilling a graduation requirement at Wheatley. Participants will meet three times a week, Monday through Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to plan each week’s community event.
These will be held on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and are open to the public. They will be held at the East Williston Village Hall. On the week of July 4, the event will be bumped up to Wednesday so as not to coincide with the holiday.
Events will cover a variety of topics from autism awareness to stereotypes, the first which was held on June 27 and address “Growing Up in the 21st Century.” The following week’s July 3 event will deal with the topic of bullying.
Copperstone initially conceived the program while bouncing ideas off of her professors.
She wanted to encourage her students to become social activists. After submitting a ten page proposal of the program to the board of trustees of the Village of East Williston, she was approved and granted access to the Village Hall as a meeting place.
Next she applied for a SEE-Beyond Award summer education grant. The grant is designed to promote further self-education for undergraduate students at Skidmore. Copperstone was one of 20 recipients and was awarded $4,000 to start up her program back in mid-April.
Copperstone started the internship program this year to give kids a head start on their college applications and job search. She cites the financial crisis in 2008 and her own difficulty find a job as a teenager as major reasons for wanting to start up such a program.
Copperstone said she is very interested in how education informs the civics of children and how they connect to their community.
“I’d love to develop this work into a thesis next year,” she added.
In the past, mothers in the village had attempted similar programs, but found it hard to engage the teenage students, according to Copperstone. She is proud hers is an effort planned by young people, for young people.
“The power is with the students, we want them to feel like they’re the ones in charge,” she said.
The internship will not just provide its enthusiastic members a free chance for community service, it also will keep them busy and proactive over the summer months, making a positive impact on their community.
Copperstone will be graduating from Skidmore next year with a New York State teaching certification for grades one through six and is looking to attend graduate school on Long Island.
There she hopes to become additionally certified for grades 7-12 as well as in Special Education. She’d like to teach somewhere on Long Island and is very excited to be working this summer with students passionate about improving and engaging their community.