Palmetto hosts “Youth Empowerment Summit” to work against bullying

Michael Tandlich, Staff Writer

On March 8, the spotlight was focused on Palmetto Senior High as the second annual “Speak Your Peace” summit took place.

As the time approached 7:15 p.m., and as drama teacher Elizabeth Silverio took to the microphone, close to 500 students, teachers, parents and community members filled the auditorium. At the entrance, assistant principals Clint Bales and Jennifer Rodriguez-Ledesma stood with clipboards in their hands, writing down students’ ID numbers for a cellphone-policy “get out of jail free” card.

Many students, including senior Juan Olano, were excited for the “‘Speak Your Peace’ Youth Empowerment Summit.”

“I expected them to touch on the topic of bullying and controlling it,” Olano said. “I’m impressed about how many people showed…I guess there must be a lot of bullying!”

These “expectations” of topics regarding how to handle and prevent bullying were met, but sophomore Chris Fisk and Peer Youth Leader Robin Tassler did not just “touch” upon the topics.

Before Fisk and Tassler began the presentation, the Jazz band, Drama department and Omega singers performed. The groups focused on the theme of violence and bullying.

“The performance was really captivating, it got the attention of the audience,” senior Abby Peace said.

Many individuals looked up to by the Panther and Pinecrest communities spoke out at the seminar, including Vice School Board Chair Dr. Lawrence S. Feldman, Principal Howard Weiner, and Chief police officer Charles Hurley.

Even though a recording of his speech was played prior to the commencement of the bullying seminar, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, in his own words, “barged in halfway through the presentation” to speak about “bullying.”

“Carvalho had a lot to say about the budget plan released by Florida’s governor, and even more to say about how hard he and his side-kick Feldman are working to make sure we- his student, teacher and parent voters- are protected,” senior Krystina Williams said. “I’m guessing it was intended to relate to bullying.”

Seven minutes after the “guest speaker” showed up, Carvalho left. Chris Fisk and Robin Tassler continued their presentation on bullying.

After a conclusive question and answer session, an hour of talk about bullying and prevention came to a close. Nonetheless, Fisk hopes the ideas expressed at the seminar will live

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