SCHENECTADY — Family and faculty gathered Wednesday at Mont Pleasant Middle School to listen to fifth-grade students speak about their experiences in the 2018 LEADership program.
This year, 19 law enforcement agencies participated in the program, reaching more than 1,500 students from the Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Lansingburgh school districts. Students participated in the four-week program once a week.
Now ending its seventh year, the program is based on an anti-gang curriculum, addressing the importance of making the right decisions in middle school and teaching students to focus on their futures.
Students were mentored by volunteers from several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who taught in 76 classrooms throughout the participating districts.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Spina was one of the volunteers at the Thomas S O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology in Albany.
“I had the pleasure of working with a very talented and special group of kids, in my opinion,” Spina said, as he introduced one of his students, Aaliyah Milgo. “From the beginning, Aaliyah really impressed me. She had such insightful questions.”
Milgo, 10, talked about her experience with the program and the inspiration she took from the classes.
“It’s a very amazing opportunity for me to learn the law and be around people who accomplished their dream.” she said.
Milgo added that she thinks the most important thing she learned from the program was how the right decisions can affect her life, as well as learning how gang activity is affecting her community.
She said she now wants to become either a lawyer or an attorney in the special victim’s unit.
“I want to help those who have been wrongfully mistreated and help them find justice,” she said.
Milgo’s mother, Janelle Ledbetter, also appreciates the program’s impact on her daughter.
“I think this program has given her the confidence she needs to really discover what she wants to be in life and what she wants to do,” she said.