The Berkshire District Attorney’s Youth Advisory Board gathered at the Beacon Cinema Theater on May 15, 2012, to be recognized for their hard work and service to the Board for 2011 – 2012 school year.  The Board is made up of representatives from high schools across Berkshire County who work with District Attorney’s staff in the Community Outreach and Education Program, assisting the Office in formulating effective educational, health, and safety outreach and prevention programs.  Almost half of the members are seniors who have served for two years and are moving on to new adventures and possibilities.  The returning members will be joined by newly selected students to represent their schools and lend a voice for the youth they represent. 

District Attorney Capeless acknowledged the school advisors and parents for their ongoing support and encouragement of the students and the program, and gave special thanks to David Cachat, CityLink Coordinator at Pittsfield Community Television, for his work in filming and editing the members’ video project.

The Board’s work over this year involved multigenerational projects throughout the County.  They began the year filming a roundtable discussion on bullying and cyberbullying.  The candid discussion hosted by Second Assistant District Attorney Robert Kinzer focuses on providing parents and guardians some real life examples of how these behaviors negatively impact teens.

The Board served as a focus group for an underage drinking program targeted at 8th through 10th grade students and will be among the programs available from the Office’s Community Outreach and Education Department to schools in the 2012-13 schools year.  Following the same topic of underage drinking some members of the Board served as mentors at a YOU LEAD conference for 9th grade students facilitated by the MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association).  The day-long conference is designed to empower participants to reinforce healthy decision making skills.

The focus on unhealthy choices involving alcohol continued as the members joined the Office in hosting the Annual Vigil of Remembrance to honor those who lost their lives in drunk driving accidents.  This event works with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and includes family members and loved ones of the victims alongside law enforcement.

The Board got into the holiday spirit on December 22, 2011, by using their time and talents to organize an event with seniors in the community.  They wanted to do something that involved bringing different generations together to talk about communication, daily life activities, and relationships then and now, so they joined forces with PineHill Assisted Living for a special holiday breakfast.

Finally, they completed their year-long service to the Board by teaching 1st graders at Egremont Elementary School in Pittsfield an internet safety lesson.  The lesson, utilizing Netsmartz® Workshop, a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, provided primary safety rules for going online.

Youth Advisory Board members for the 2011 – 2012 academic year were:   Colleen Garrity and Jacob McNicol, Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School; Alexandra Bona and Vito Guerino, Drury High School; Austin Herzog  and Nathan Goyette, Hoosac Valley High School; Samantha Brown and Nicholaus Sitzer, Lee Middle and High School; Amy Kane, Lenox Memorial Middle and High School; Vanessa Ramos and Jessica Wojcik,  McCann Technical School; Megan Newton, Miss Hall's School; Tyler Summers, Monument Mt. Regional High School; Erik Derwitsch and Tara Sullivan, Mt. Everett High School; Kaylene Lemme and Anna Penna, Mt. Greylock Regional High School; Tori Peaslee and Tyler Panetti, Pittsfield High School; Nicole Akramoff and Erica Quallen, St. Joseph Central High School; Glen Bona and Dar'ya Matkovska, Taconic High School; Chris Darroch and Courtney Quinn, Wahconah Regional High School.