Civic Engagement Day at Lake George High School: Engaging Community Understanding and Involvement

Lake George High School hosted its inaugural Civic Engagement Day on Friday, Feb. 9, an event aimed at bridging the gap between students and the economic development entities in their community. 

Spearheaded by a collaborative effort between school faculty and local organizations, the event provided a platform for students to interact with leaders from Warren County’s economic landscape. This connection was meant to provide students with a better understanding of the roles these organizations play individually and collectively in shaping the economic landscape of Warren County.

The panelists included Jeff Flagg, Director of Economic Development for the City of Glens Falls; Liza Ochsendorf, Director at Warren County Workforce Development; Dan Barusch, Director of Planning and Zoning for Lake George Town and Village; Chuck Barton, CEO of Warren Washington Industrial Development Agency; Diane Dumouchel, Director of Finance and Compliance at EDC Warren County, and Jim Siplon, President of EDC Warren County.

The event was held to establish a connection between students and the  local economic organizations operating within our community. Making this connection provided students with a better understanding of the roles these organizations play, individually and collectively, in shaping the economic landscape of Warren County.

The event kicked off with introductions, setting the stage for a series of panel discussions facilitated by Stephen Preuss from the Counseling Department. Students were encouraged to actively participate by formulating panel questions and identifying key themes for breakout sessions.

Preuss emphasized the importance of this event, explaining to students, “You are on the cusp of transitioning from high school students to broader community members, and looking at how you can be more involved as a citizen.”  

During the panel discussions, students delved into pressing issues such as population trends, the impact of short-term rentals on the community, changes in local businesses, innovative housing planning initiatives, and the role of younger people, such as themselves, in addressing community issues. Through engaging conversations with the panelists, students gained insights into the complexities of economic development and its implications for their community.

Following the panel discussions, students participated in breakout sessions focused on specific topics identified during the event. These topics ranged from infrastructure development, such as the construction of a parking garage or a public skating rink, to strategies for attracting year-round businesses and improving access to Lake George.

“Students need a voice and a seat at the table,” said Liza Ochsendorf (Director at Warren County Workforce Development) “And using their voice, they spoke passionately about ideas for the recent award to revitalize Canada Street. Dan Barusch (Planning and Zoning) is helping to form a committee so they can continue to be a part of this community conversation.” 

The day exemplified the power of collaboration between educational and local organizations in creating community understanding and involvement. This platform empowered our students  to become active participants in shaping the future of their community.

“Today’s discussion was an inspiring example of the power of engaging and entrusting our students with real-world topics.  Events like this help equip our young people the knowledge and connections they need to thrive after graduation. I’m proud of our students who demonstrated such maturity and articulation  in regards to how we can build a more vibrant local economy and society. I would once again like to thank our community partners for their meaningful engagement as well,” said Lake George Central School District Superintendent John Luthringer.