Students learn a new kind of networkingPublished 9:17pm Monday, October 10, 2011
A few area students are getting a crash course in social networking this month thanks to the efforts of the Rotary Club of Niles-Buchanan and three local high schools.
But the students aren’t learning about Facebook and Twitter, they are learning about old-fashioned networking — the face-to-face kind.
“These kids are more adept at social networking than I’m probably ever going to be,” Brandywine Community Schools Supt. John Jarpe said. “They can probably go online and do so much more than I can. But this kind of skill, where you are going somewhere and meeting people face to face and talking about them and learning something from them — I certainly hope that never gets abandoned in our society.”
Seven seniors — three from Niles High School, two from Brandywine and two from Buchanan — are taking part in the month-long program, which began Monday morning at Niles Elks. The program runs every Monday.
The students showed up about a half-hour early to the Rotary Club’s regular noon meeting. There, they were told what to expect by Jarpe, Niles Supt. Richard Weigel and Buchanan Supt. Andrea van der Laan.
Weigel challenged the students to sit next to people they did not know and ask good questions. He told them to be bold and courageous, and to push their limits.
“The idea is you may start making some connections with people that aren’t the same age as you,” he said. “That is always good for you and for everyone else. People at the Rotary need to know what it means today to be a teenager.”
The students had a chance to take on the challenge during lunch, where they spread out to different tables to chat with the Rotary Club members.
After lunch, each student stood up and introduced him or herself to the room.
The idea of having students attend Rotary Club meetings is nothing new. It has been done for more than 40 years, according to Jarpe, who was a Rotary student in 1967.
However, a few changes were made to this year’s program.
It was opened to a larger number and variety of students. In year’s past, only students with the highest GPAs were invited to attend. There is also a stronger focus being placed on meaningful interaction between Rotary members and students.
Brandywine senior Taylor Stowe was pleased with the first meeting.
“I want to get more involved with the community and branch out and meet new people, and I think I can do that here,” she said.
The students participating from Niles High School are Danny Touhey, Alison Dawson and Ramea Starling. Ashley Luzarde and Dakota Lowrance came from Buchanan High and Josh Boger from Brandywine.
A new group of students will begin the program every month.