Allied and strong
Crescent Collegiate youth group after 10 years
Teacher Michelle Mahoney can see them as she moves through the hallways of Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown.
They’re engaged in conversations, showing their general outgoing attitudes.
You might say Mahoney is just looking at the students she sees everyday as a part of the staff at Crescent.
But, these are not just regular students that Mahoney notices.
They are the 18 students who make up the Crescent Collegiate post of Allied Youth, an international organization geared towards young people in junior and senior high, of which Mahoney is the post advisor and in her first year with the group.
The AY post at Crescent includes members from Fair Haven to Heart’s Delight, and all in between.
“We have one of the largest, and most active, posts in Newfoundland,” said Mahoney.
Students entering the group make the commitment to become active members of their community. The group helps organize and run activities like blood donor clinics, food drives (they have one scheduled for March with aims of filling a truck with canned foods) and visits to retirement homes.
“The group attracts people who have natural leadership abilities,”
“It’s really hard to explain what you do, and what it’s all about. There are no words to describe it.”
— Julian Smith
said Mahoney. “So, students are quite mature, and they tend to be the students who put off things like speak-offs.”
Mahoney sees Crescent Collegiate as an ideal place for a group like Allied Youth to grow and flourish.
She doesn’t see the typical tensions between student groups you might see in other high schools.
“There is an open flow in the student body,” said Mahoney.
This inviting environment has caused the students who are in the program to “flourish” and come out of their shells.
Grade 9 student Isaac Bonisteel got involved with Allied Youth when he ventured to one of its socials in Grade 8 with a couple of his friends who were already in Allied Youth.
He had so much fun at the event that he decided to join.
“We play games. It’s educational and I find it interesting,” said Isaac.
Julian Smith is one of the co-presidents of Allied Youth. He said the group has a good reputation in the school.
“Some people respect what we do in Allied Youth,” said Smith.
He does, however, recognize that there are some people in the school who “are too cool for Allied Youth.”
Growing as people
Isaac has found that since his entry into Allied Youth, he has “made a lot of new friends.” For him, Allied Youth has been a way to become more of an outgoing person.
“It’s brought me out of my shell,” he said.
Isaac finds that he talks to people more, and he believes Allied Youth “makes you happier.”
Ryan Pretty is the other co-president of the group, along with Smith. Before joining the group, Pretty said he “used to keep to himself a lot.” He said Allied Youth puts you in situations that force you to open up, taking him out his comfort zone.
“You’re often put in places where you have to be a leader, you don‘ t really have a choice,” said Pretty.
Smith said he was always outgoing, but Allied Youth has “made him even more outgoing.”
A decade of work
Ten years ago, Allied Youth was a foreign concept at Crescent Collegiate.
Jessica Peckham, who is now a teacher intern at the school, remembers how when approaching community groups about helping out she was met with confused looks.
“When we said youth group, we were met with surprise,” she said. “Community involvement was a big deal.”
The group was started at the school in 2002, when Peckham was in Grade 8.
“A guidance counsellor at the school brought it in, and we loved it,” she said.
It was started in April of that year, and in September the group held a membership drive.
“At first, there were only four people in Allied Youth,” said Peckham. However, as the program moved into its second and third years, it continued to grow.
Peckham has come full circle since entering the program.
After graduating from Crescent, she moved onto Memorial University in St. John’s to study education.
Here, Peckham became a postadvisor and continued working with Allied Youth.
She has since returned to Crescent as an intern, and has become involved with this current incarnation of the group. Peckham remembers how Allied Youth helped her grow as a person.
“It helped me become a more social person and really open up,” she said.
Julian Smith has been asked to describe Allied Youth to someone who does not know.
“It’s really hard to explain what you do, and what it’s all about,” he said. “There a re no words to describe it.”
The Allied Youth group in Crescent Collegiate has seen tremendous growth since its start in 2002. Participating in blood donor clinics, canned food drives and visits to old age homes, Allied Youth has integrated itself into the community seemlessly. Members of the group are: front(from left) — Jacob Dubeau, Leslie Rowe, Ashley George, Kaitlin Smith, Tyler Engle and Daniel Power; middle — Lindsay Lynch, Taylor Trainor, Crystal Grenier, Heidi Smith, Dakota Clarke, Julian Smith and Shayla Smith; back — Michelle Mahoney, Lesley Burgess, Celeste Burgess, Issac Bonisteel, Ryan Pretty and Steven Rowe.