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Ceremony recognizes Washington County as one of America's 100 best communities

Friday's event included a dance off for teens and a number of educational booths

October 19, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Former Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, left, talked about the 100 Best Communities For Young People award given to Washington County Friday night at at Valley Mall in Halfway. Standing behind her are Washington County Commissioner Jeffrey Cline and Washington County Board of Education President Wayne Ridenour.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Phtographer

Washington County was recognized as one of the 100 best communities for young people by America’s Promise Alliance and ING U.S. during a ceremony Friday evening at Valley Mall in Halfway.

Shalom Black Lane, executive director of Teens Have Choices of Washington County, said the honor was announced Sept. 12.

She said Friday’s event, which included a dance off for teens and a number of educational booths, was the formal acceptance ceremony.

“It’s a really huge honor for us to be named one of the 100 best communities for youths in America,” Black Lane said.

Former Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan returned to the area to present the honor.

Morgan currently serves as chief education adviser for America’s Promise Alliance, an organization that focuses on finding ways to reduce the high school dropout rate.

Roughly 250 local teenagers and a handful of parents attended the event. One of the booths involved a DUI simulator with a mock jail.

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“The idea is to have them do something physical so it sticks in their memory,” Black Lane said.

But the most popular event of the night was the dance off, which earned $500 for winner Kenny Catchings. Crystal McLeod placed second and Angelina Mendez was third.

Hagerstown resident Rahmeik “Bamn Bamn” Venavle impressed the audience with a break dance routine that included a somersault from the stage.

“It was freestyle,” he said.

Venavle, 18, said the event was positive because it brought teenagers together in a safe and friendly environment.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “It’s the best way for young adults to show their talents. This is proof that we just don’t sit on the couch and get into trouble.”

Williamsport High School senior Legend Dixon said she also believed the event was positive for the county’s youth.

She said she was there to support the Boys & Girls Club, but took a break from volunteering at the organization’s booth to watch the dance off.

“It’s a nice after-school, extracurricular activity,” Dixon said. “It tells kids what to do and what not to do. It teaches them to stay away from drugs and alcohol.”

In addition to teaching children about the negative aspects of drugs and alcohol, some of the booths offered information about abstinence and sexual responsibility.

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