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Conference serves to inspire local students

Conference serves to inspire local students
4 students receive Dr. Cynthia Schloss Award

Students who won the Cynthia Schloss Award

As featured in The Milton Standard-Journal

MILTON — One-hundred-fifty students from across the Central Susquehanna Valley participated in a virtual conference Thursday, designed to inspire them as they transition into posthigh school life.

Misty Harris, an educational consultant with the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU), said the annual conference is designed for students with any type of disability.

Students from the Lewisburg, Mifflinburg, Milton, Warrior Run, Midd West and Selinsgrove school districts, along with SUN Area Technical Institute and SusQ Cyber Charter School, attended this year’s conference, titled the 2021 Union/Snyder County Transition Conference. The theme was “All Systems Go.”

Through break-out presentations held during the conference, students were provided with tips on post-secondary education and training, employment opportunities and independent living.

“Those are the three levels we look at with students who are transitioning from life in high school to life after,” Harris said.

Four students were recognized with the Dr. Cynthia Schloss Award. The award winners were: First place, Thomas Wagner, Mifflinburg Area School District; second place, Kaitlin Hansel, Danville Area School District; third place, Emily Hall, Danville Area Scholl District; and fourth place, Jasmine Hollenbach, Warrior Run School District.

Each student received a trophy and monetary prize. The awards are presented annually to students who demonstrate “a strong personal work ethic and commitment to preparation for adult life.”

In addition to the awards and break-out sessions, Harris said three keynote speakers were a highlight of this year’s conference.

Alexis Naugle, a 27-yearold graduate of the Selinsgrove High School, was the keynote speaker during the morning portion of the conference. “She talked to the students about how she was able to overcome her disabilities,” Harris said. “She graduated from college. She runs marathons when she was told as a child she would probably never walk.”

Speaking during the afternoon portion of the conference were Alex Douglass and Earl Granville. Douglass was a state police trooper who sustained life-threatening injuries during a 2014 attack on the Blooming Grove barracks in Pike County. Cpl. Bryon Dickson was killed in that attack by gunman Eric Frein. “(Douglass) talked about overcoming his injuries,vhow mental health is very important,” Harris said.Granville served nine years in the U.S. Army. While serving in Afghanistan, Harris said a vehicle Granville was traveling in hit a roadside bomb.

“He lost his left leg,” Harris said. “He talked about how he has overcome that.” Speakers during breakout sessions included Ann Dzwomchyk of Evangelical Community Hospital, Cathy Grow of the Warrior Run School District, Michele Ocker- Holman of Rabbittransit,

Olivia Oden of United in Recovery, Paula Dickey of YES to the Future, Erin Dunleavy of Weis Markets and Taylor Lauver of Career- Link. Harris said those who attended the conference were “really impressed” with the speakers.

“The takeaway would be you can overcome any obstacle with hard work, surrounding yourself with good people, and dedication to goals you set for yourself,” Harris said.

While Harris said the conference is presented annually by CSIU, this marked the first year it was held virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite having to be virtual, it was still an amazing day,” Harris said. She noted that the conference is made possible through community contributions.

“The conference was always funded through donations and fundraising efforts,” Harris said. “A lot of people donate their time to make the conference happen. We always appreciate that.” 

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email