Tomorrow’s Leaders Today Adjusts to New Normal

The 2020-2021 Leadership Lackawanna youth program, Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT), recently met for its first virtual session, which included an orientation, leadership basics, and philanthropy. This year’s program is made possible by the support of its corporate sponsor, NBT Bank.

TLT is a seven-month program designed to develop the leadership, interpersonal, and managerial skills of high school juniors, while giving them an enhanced understanding of northeastern Pennsylvania. 

The program also gives them the opportunity to explore teamwork, collaborative decision making, different communication styles, and engage in problem solving techniques. The challenges and opportunities of northeastern Pennsylvania are discussed as participants meet with community leaders and other high school students.

Although COVID-19 has adjusted the program’s regular schedule, the virtual environment has created new learning opportunities for this year’s students.

“Thanks to the help and support of our volunteers, local organizations, and leaders, we have put together a high-quality program for our students in a virtual format,” said Dominick Mitchell, Leadership Lackawanna program coordinator. “I am impressed with the students and their enthusiasm for this year’s curriculum. A virtual setting is new for all of us, but their engagement in learning and with each other has been inspiring.”

The 2020-2021 Tomorrow’s Leaders Today participants from Dunmore High School is Jessica Trauger

Participants from Holy Cross High School include: Nora Betts, Laura Johnson, Sarah Lyons, Mariah Mancuso and Nathan McAndrew.

Leadership Lackawanna’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Today Program accepts applications from sophomores who attend high school in Lackawanna County or in the Lackawanna Trail and Western Wayne school districts.

Tomorrow’s Leaders Today Class of 2020

Tomorrow's LeadersThe Leadership Lackawanna teen program, Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT), recently celebrated the end of their year with a virtual session via a Zoom meeting. Leadership Lackawanna’s seven-month TLT program develops the leadership, interpersonal and managerial skills of high school juniors and provides real-world experiences in the areas of philanthropy, non-profit organizations and community service.

The 2020 TLT class, including Isabella Zeller and Calvin Zhang, both from Dunmore High School and Ryan Huester and Norah Kelly both from Holy Cross High School will celebrate their accomplishments with an in-person graduation at a later date.

Shown front row, from left: Kaitlyn Seechock, Lindsay Grzyboski, Binnie Patel, Shaylyn Chilek, Morgan Faist, Molly Dougherty, Camdyn Lewis, Noelle Prisco, Sophie Petraitis, Taralyn Reilly, Gianna Giumento, Morgan Siefring, and Mary O’Brien.

Second row: Elizabeth Schieber, Maura Sherry, Isabella Zeller, Dunmore High School; Paige McConlogue, Sara McCormack, Sarah Siddiqui, Ryan Huester, Holy Cross High School; Bayley Grizzanti, Henry Lin, Norah Kelly, Holy Cross High School; Alissa Koniszewski, Sophia Williams, Maggie Reppa, and Emily Laabs.

Third row: Jacob Stankowski, Calvin Zhang, Dunmore High School; Cabre Capalongo, Celeste Orchard, Luke White, Emma Yusavage, Andrew Stark, Zack Kovalchik, and Harry Johnson.

Back row: Sydney Vachino, Ashley Hamilton, and Maddie Lucas.

Dunmorean of the Month: Gia Occhipinti

Gia OccipintiBy Steve Svetovich

When you talk to Dunmore High School senior Gia Occhipinti, her humble and gentle nature stands out.

And it is not hard to notice how much she loves her fellow students and teachers.

Daughter of Ron and Christal (Costanzo) Occhipinti, Dunmore, Gia, 18, with all her humility, is quite an accomplished student at Dunmore High School.

And she has evolved into quite a leader.

Presently, she is ranked number one in her senior class. She has a 99.4 academic average, including a grade of 100 so far in all four years studying French.

She has earned many awards in the National French Exam and completed the Leadership Lackawanna’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Today program.

Gia was chosen as a counselor for RYLA youth leadership program. She is the Dunmore High School president of the National Honor Society. She is a varsity football cheerleader co-captain. She is editor of the Dunmore High School yearbook.

Gia’s mom said her daughter’s work as a counselor for the RYLA youth leadership program  was life changing.

“The Dunmore Rotary Club sent me to Keystone College for two summers in 2017 and 2018 as part of the youth leadership awards program. I was a counselor for high school sophomores. I was in charge of the Art group. Being a counselor for those two summers really taught me a lot.

“It really was a very influential part of my life. I was kind of shy growing up. By taking on a leadership role, it changed the way I conduct myself and gave me confidence.”

Gia is unsure about where she will attend college, but wants to study biology and pre dentistry in hope of eventually becoming an orthodontist.

Her favorite academic subject is French.

“I hope to pursue French as a minor in college. My French teacher at Dunmore, Mr. Lucas, has served as a mentor for me. He gives me great advice about life and opportunities.”

Gia, polite and well spoken, said her parents have been huge influences. “My parents teach me to be a good person in life. They gave my brother Justin and I a great set of morals and values. Their code of ethics helped make me a good student and friend.”

Gia has truly loved her experience at Dunmore. “It has been so great here at Dunmore. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I have such a close knit group of friends. I love them all.

gia“And I have to give a shout out to all my amazing teachers. They are all like extra mothers and fathers to me. I have learned so much from them.”

Gia talked about what it takes to be a good cheerleader. “It is very necessary to be punctual for practice. You need to get to practice on time to focus on your skills.

“Most of all you need to show a lot of school spirit. You need to get your school pumped up.”

Gia enjoys listening to music in her spare time. She would love to see Khalid, an R and B Rap artist, in concert.

In the meantime, Gia will focus on her final six months at Dunmore. “It is such a great school. We are all very close here.”