PORT CHESTER, N.Y. Twenty-three students from Rye Neck High School, Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook and Port Chester High School participating in Rye Town's "Tools for Change" program went in front of the Rye Town Board on Tuesday evening to present policy recommendations from the group's final project.
The voluntary program, in its third year, is a college level seminar course that allows students to form real world policy recommendations by employing research methods and analytics used by social scientists. The seminar is taught injunction by Duke University Professor William Tobin and Rye Neck High School Teacher Valerie Feit and funded by the Town of Rye and Building Community Bridges, a non-for-profit founded by Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin.
"It teaches students how to solve real world problems by giving them the tools and skills to attack it," Tobin said. "The most innovative, creative and practical solutions come out of inclusive and diverse groups like this."
According to Tobin, this year's project about implementation strategies for social media in local government was created, designed and framed by the students.
"The students led the seminar from day one," Tobin said.
The presentation delivered by select members of the 23 student group recommended social media policy changes based on qualitative survey research compiled over the 2011-12 school year. Among the recommendations put forth by the students were the creation of a student led consultancy and webinars to acclimate residents to social media.
While many view social media as a recreational device, many of the students stressed the value a strong social media presence can have.
"I want people to understand that you can use the Internet to help your community," Port Chester High School junior Kyle Thomas said.
After the presentation, students filed compliments and questions from members of the public and the Rye Town Board. Carvin thoroughly expressed his desire to follow through on the recommendations put forth by the students.
"It's fundamentally important that we execute on these recommendations," Carvin said.
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