Area students come together to promote progress over perfection

DEXTER — Students from six schools across the region wanting to make a difference came together to take part in workshops, share what they are doing, and brainstorm ideas all focused on leading positive change in their schools and communities at the Positive Action Team Summit on Friday, March 22 at Dexter Regional High School. 

The day-long event featured about 70 pupils from student-led teams representing the host school, Ridge View Community School, Piscataquis Community Secondary School, Penquis Valley High School, Foxcroft Academy, and SeDoMoCha Middle School.

The annual summit – which began in 2019 — advances students’ work to address substance use prevention, mental health and wellbeing, suicide prevention, ensuring a safe school environment, and more. The Positive Action Teams are a collaborative effort between the local schools and Northern Light Mayo and CA Dean Hospitals.

Dexter Regional High School Social Worker Nicci Webber said this year’s summit theme is “Progress Over Perfection.” She said students are encouraged to be “thinking about not being perfect all the time, breaking it down to be more manageable.”

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
POSITIVE ACTION TEAM SUMMIT — Representatives from six area schools gathered at Dexter Regional High School on March 22 for the annual Positive Action Team Summit to take part in various workshops and share ideas on leading change in their schools and communities under this year’s theme “Progress Over Perfection.” From left are Dexter seniors Graci Scott, Makenzie Trafton, and Shelby Dyson and Ridge View Community School eighth-grader Aubrey Ladd.

After some early morning warmup activities, summit participants heard from Kyle Quilausing. A once-promising golfer who became addicted to crystal meth and was on Hawaii’s most wanted list, Quilausing shared his story of overcoming adversity to build a successful life and career at schools across the country to empower youth to make healthy, positive choices.

Students — who wore pink sweatshirts with the name of their school on the right sleeve –  took part in morning and afternoon workshops on topics such as how to talk to friends about mental health, supporting LGBTQ+, and healthy relationships. They also took part in activities such as yoga and painting by pouring color mixtures out of jars and onto canvas. The workshops were held in different classrooms around the building, with the day’s regular classes for the rest of the Dexter student body being held as scheduled.

Workshop participants who spoke up could earn raffle tickets to enter into a drawing for prizes including gift certificates, collectables, and cellphone accessories.

Lunch was served at the “Prevention Cafe” as students enjoyed tacos while being able to speak with one and another and connect with outside providers such as the Maine Youth Action Network, NAMI Maine, OUT Maine, Penquis, Rape Response Services, and more.

“I hope they learn some skills that they may not know,” Dexter senior Mckenzie Trafton said at the start of the Prevention Cafe about what she hopes Positive Action Team Summit participants get out of the day. She mentioned the healthy relationship and Narcan workshops as being especially important for her peers.

“I hope they get what the training was meant for, they know how to use the Narcan when people are overdosing if they need to,” Dexter senior Shelby Dyson added.

She mentioned the yoga workshop as another important session. “If they need to use that if they are having struggles and need a decompressor, that’s a good way to use something,” Dyson said.

“I also think it’s a lot about awareness too,” Dexter senior Graci Scott said about the summit. “Making people aware of a lot of the things we brought here like mental health, genders, LGBTQ+, just helping people fit in and feel like they are not alone.”

“I just hope that everyone has fun and they also learn a little bit about the stuff that they are doing in the workshops they are going to,” Ridge View Community School eighth-grader Aubrey Ladd said.

Trafton said Scott brought her to a Positive Action team meeting and “ever since I really love it, just being able to know I have the chance to make a difference in the school and the community.”

Dyson said she attended the 2020 summit as an eighth-grader at Ridge View. “I have loved it ever since and I have loved spreading awareness,” she said.

“I have always been an active member in the community and the school so I thought it was just another way to help the community,” Scott said about her involvement in Dexter’s Positive Action Team.

“I also thought it would be great fun and a great opportunity to learn more and do opportunities like this,” Ladd added.

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