November 24, 2014 - Volume 34 Issue 22



By David King

The Bradley Project on America’s National Identity lays out our challenge – “America is unique among nations in being founded not on a common ethnicity, but on a set of ideas.  A nation based on ethnicity perpetuates itself by the fact of birth.  But a nation founded on an idea starts anew with each generation and with each new group of immigrants.  Knowing what America stands for is not a genetic inheritance.  It must be learned, both by the next generation and by those who come to this county.  In this way, a nation founded on an idea is inherently fragile.  And a nation that celebrates the many ways we are different from one another must remind itself constantly of what we all share.”

Youth Leadership Association engages students in citizenship.  Students discover who they are, who we are as communities – West Virginia – and a nation, what we can become, and how together we bring the promise of America to life in our homes, schools, and communities.

YLA, formerly the Ohio-West Virginia YMCA, is now an association open to all.  

YLA teens, (formerly known as HI-Y), apply classroom lessons in volunteer initiatives improving our schools and communities.  Just one example, Fayette County’s Valley High School HI-Y gives give more than 20,000 hours of volunteer service every year.  In the process of giving, students see how classroom lessons apply to the real world as they build leadership skills. 

YLA teens also step out of familiar surroundings into new settings with diverse peers from different backgrounds and places applying classroom lessons in new and often “on your feet” thinking in Youth in Government Student Legislature and Supreme Court at the State Capitol, 8th Grade Youth & Government Seminars at the Capitol, Model United Nation’s Assemblies, and week-long Entrepreneurship and Leadership Summits at the Horseshoe Leadership Center. 

This journey of citizenship enables YLA students to enhance classroom learning, discover career interests, build work and leadership skills, and develop an understanding and habits of responsible citizenship.  Our schools and communities gain new generations of informed, committed, and engaged responsible citizens and leaders.


YLA students say it best –

We bring home ideas and leadership skills that can’t be learned anywhere else.  I bring home what I learn about civics and a drive to make a difference.  We learn anyone can make a difference in your community and state, and I intend to do so.
Tyler Jenkins, WV Youth Governor, Martinsburg High School

We are learning what people should aim to be – the strong values, being able to lead with both your head and your heart – these are things no textbook will ever be able to offer.       
Emily Harrell – Capital High School

This helped me feel like I can make a change.  I’ve learned how to be a better leader and how I can help my community and school.  Everyone accepts you and your ideas without hesitation.  People helped me work harder and think quicker.  This experience has really changed how I look at the world and where I want to be later in life.          
Olivia Haddad – University High School, Morgantown

Horseshoe is totally different – a lot of other camps just going through the motions.  Horseshoe inspires people to be well-rounded, intelligent, and caring leaders.  Horseshoe causes one to learn about who they are and inspires growth.  You learn how to be a leader and you also learn how to support others.
Chris Johnson, Point Pleasant High School

The results of YLA’s partnership with West Virginia schools are all around us in communities across our state and beyond.  Volunteers, persons in all walks of life, leaders of our communities, state and nation are bringing understanding and life to the idea of America. 

YLA alumni include Sylvia Mathews Burwell (Hinton) who is now US Secretary of DHHS, Justice Allen Loughry (Parsons) West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Rick Staton (Mullens) Director West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services, Laurel Lackey Basil (Summersville) Attorney General’s office, Paul Espinosa (Charles Town) House of Delegates.

For more information about YLA, please visit YLA’s website at, or telephone 304.675.5899.

Editor’s Note: David King served as director of HI-Y (now YLA) for more than 40 years.  He received his undergraduate degree from Wittenberg University and his master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision from Bowling Green State University.  Prior to his service with YLA, he taught 11th grade American History for five years.  David has retired as Ohio-West Virginia Youth Leadership Association’s Executive Director.



As snow begins covering the ground, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) reminds parents, students and educators to use the WVDE's school closing notification system. The WVDE posts the most up-to-date information on its website In addition, individuals can be notified immediately of school closings and delays through email and text alerts, RSS feed, XML feed and on Twitter @WVSnowDay.

Mobile text messaging provides instant and immediate communication for those affected by inclement weather and has become the most effective method in getting school messages delivered. Text alerts easily reach teachers, school personnel, students and parents/guardians to immediately alert them of school closings, emergencies, bus schedule changes, delays and other notifications. The main advantage of mobile text messaging over any other communication is that people tend to constantly check their cell phones.

The WVDE encourages the use of mobile text messages as an option to receive emergency communications. To sign up, click on the mobile text link on the Department's main website. Anyone with mobile service can sign up for text alerts by providing their cell phone number as well as their cell service carrier.

To sign up for the other alerts, visit the School Closings/ Delays/ Dismissals page at and simply follow the instructions.

For more information or help signing up for alert services, contact the WVDE Communication Office at 304.558.2699.



The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) will receive a grant for $9.7 million to curb gun violence by connecting families, schools and communities to mental health services.

West Virginia was one of 120 states and local school districts to receive the Now is the Time Project AWARE grant for mental health first aid training. The grant is part of a major national initiative to support teachers, schools and communities in recognizing and responding to mental health concerns among youth in West Virginia.

Project AWARE’s purpose is to increase awareness of the mental health issues throughout the state by training school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged youth on how to detect, respond and connect children and families who may have mental health issues with the appropriate services.

“We understand the critical role schools play in ensuring that behavioral problems are identified early so that young people can grow and thrive in a healthy environment,” said Michael Martirano, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools. “Left untreated, childhood mental and emotional disorders can lead to poor outcomes in school, limited employment opportunities and other negative economic impacts in adulthood. This funding will help develop a comprehensive, coordinated and integrated program for advancing wellness and resilience in our state’s educational system.”

The funding provided by Project AWARE grant will begin the process of developing an interconnected systems framework linking the school climate policy, positive behavioral interventions and supports, comprehensive school counseling programs, student advisory programs, mental health first aid and mental health services in order to leverage individual program strengths within a community schools framework.

Public school students in PreK-12 from county school systems in Berkeley, McDowell, and Wood counties were selected for intense focus and will serve as the demonstration sites to guide the development of a statewide sustainable systems’ approach to improve mental health services.

The Now is the Time Project AWARE grant was made possible through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and will be administered over five years.

SAMHA Grant Link can be found at

For more information, contact Liza Cordeiro in the WVDE Communications Office at 304.558.2699.