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Two Students From Corning Serve as National Teen Advisors to The Smithsonian

The Rockwell Museum Joins the Smithsonian Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council

Two local students from Corning-Painted Post High School Learning Center will serve as national teen advisors to the Smithsonian 

We are thrilled to announce our participation in the Smithsonian Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council.  Mara Troy and Devyn Butler, students of the Corning-Painted Post High School Learning Center, are lending their advice to Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton as members of the council. Each teen is one of 25 high school juniors and seniors who will advise Skorton during a quarterly meeting on topics such as technology in museums, how museums could address societal conflicts and be catalysts for dialogue and how the Smithsonian might accomplish its goal of reaching 1 billion visitors.

Mara Troy (left) and Devyn Butler (right0, students of the Corning-Painted Post High School Learning Center, are lending their advice to Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton as members of the council.

Skorton established the Youth Advisory Council in 2016 to gain advice and insight on youth perception of the Smithsonian from students in Washington, D.C. The second group expands on the original work and includes students from the Smithsonian Affiliate network, providing a national perspective to the conversation by attending virtually. The Smithsonian held the first meeting of the 2017 council at the Smithsonian Castle in Washington Sept. 27.

“I’m very pleased to expand the opportunity to include teens nationally through our Smithsonian Affiliations program,” Skorton said. “I look forward to connecting with our teens and gaining a wide variety of perspectives.”

“We are thrilled that our partnership with the Smithsonian can bring such a unique learning opportunity to local students,” said Gigi Alvare, director of education of The Rockwell Museum. “I have no doubt that Devyn and Mara will provide truly unique perspectives as members of the Youth Advisory Council, becoming part of an important national conversation about young people and museums.”

The Rockwell Museum has partnered with the High School Learning Center since 2002 with programs such as the Alley Art Project and Masks, Music, Movement and Monologues. Students study art in The Rockwell collection, learning about symbolism and art theory. Students then explore aspects of individual and community identity, which acts as a catalyst for creative writing, art-making and performance. Students earn credits toward their high school diploma during the time spent with Rockwell educators, all while cultivating a sense of pride, ownership, and connection to the community.

Both Mara and Devyn have been active in recent HSLC activities at The Rockwell – pictured here with HSLC band and classmates!

“The Rockwell believes in civic engagement and building community through partnerships and collaboration. The Rockwell has been partnering with Corning’s High School Learning Center for over 15 years on a wide variety of education initiatives, and proudly joined the Smithsonian Affiliate family in 2015,” said The Rockwell’s executive director, Brian Lee Whisenhunt. “For these two partnerships to come together and flourish even further is very exciting.”

Superintendent Michael Ginalski said, “The partnership between the school district, the High School Learning Center and The Rockwell has provided such great learning experiences for our students, and that continues in a major way with two of our students participating on the Smithsonian Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council.  This further demonstrates the power of The Rockwell and the Smithsonian affiliation, as this type of opportunity for young people would not happen otherwise. It demonstrates a great commitment to our youth and as the Superintendent, I am proud to work in a community that offers these type of extended opportunities for its students.”

Mara and Devyn both participated in the implementation of the most recent Alley Art Project mural, which debuted just recently in September 2017.

The 2017–2018 council includes 15 teens from the Washington metropolitan area. Ten teens recruited directly from five Smithsonian Affiliates will provide a national perspective; the Affiliates are the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich.; the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Fort Worth, Texas; the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum in Cincinnati; The Rockwell Museum in Corning, N.Y.; and the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, S.C.

“Taking the Smithsonian beyond the National Mall is critical to our mission,” said Myriam Springuel, interim director of Smithsonian Affiliations. “The five Affiliate partners in the Council’s second cohort are incredibly strong advocates for their own local youth programs.”

The Rockwell’s Smithsonian Affiliation

Alley Art Project

Masks & Monologues