Working Together for a Bright Future

Second Community Coalition Action Meeting held on Nov. 16

Vineland Public Schools hosted their second Community Action Partnership Committee meeting on Tuesday, a new initiative spearheaded by Superintendent Alfonso Llano. 

Over two dozen city and county organizations, city officials, and members of the district were invited to participate in the meeting to share information on programs that support, build, and strengthen our school community.

The committee plans to meet monthly with a rotating group of highlight speakers. Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting was Vineland High School senior class president Yahira Cuevas-Beteta, Southwest Council SCRATCH Project coordinator Michael Regenelli, and Vineland Public Schools social worker Cathleen Morris. 

Cuevas, the reigning Miss Monogram, senior class president, and member of the AFJROTC Color Guard, offered a unique student perspective on the school district. She described her love for VHS’s teachers, diversity, acceptance, and the wide variety of classes and extracurricular activities, which ultimately swayed her decision to attend VHS over CCTEC. 

“It was the best decision I ever made,” Cuevas said. 

She asked the attendees to keep in mind that for many students, the motivation and enthusiasm to learn has been lost thanks to the pandemic, and they need to be reminded that education is important. Cuevas was recently accepted to Arizona State University, where she plans to attend and study for a career in the medical field. 

Regenelli described the services the SCRATCH Program provides to the community. SCRATCH is an initiative of the Southwest Council, a substance abuse prevention agency serving both Salem and Cumberland Counties. Most of the Southwest Council’s drug prevention and educational programs take place in schools and “teach skills that assist individuals in refusing drug offers, resist pro-drug influences, correct misperceptions that drug use is normative, and enhance social and personal competence skills.” They have visited several schools in the district already and hope to expand to more throughout the year. 

Morris spoke on youth mental health first aid, a program designed to educate people on how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Morris dispelled some commonly held beliefs regarding mental health and provided some tips on how to provide help for a child in crisis. 

The district will create a page on our website, http://www.vineland.org/community/community-corner, that will feature links to all participating organizations. The groups are welcome to share their websites, social media links, and any pertinent information so the schools and community will have a centralized location to access their resources.