Sparks Fly At An Educational Conference In Bangor 

Students from all around Maine have been working on something at the Gracie Theater in Bangor: their inner spark.”Your spark is a special talent, or interest, or gift that you have that you can help to use, help other people in the world,” said Camille Howard, a junior at Woodlawn High School.”My spark is pretty much helping others. I find a real joy from trying to give people advice, and move on to helping them through their hardships,” said Gabriel Shearer, a junior at Scarborough High School.Igniting that spark, and keeping it bright, is one of goals of Positive Youth Development Institute.”We’re trying to figure out ways to use the passion we have for that spark to make change in other people’s lives, and make a difference in their communities,” said Melissa Prescott, a visual art teacher at Telstar Middle School.They let their sparks fly at the 4th annual professional development conference. It’s a chance for educators around the state to hear from the young ones about ways to strengthen their relationships.The theme this year: Change We’d Like To See.”It is really about youth voice, and youth choice, and it’s about partnerships,” said Karen Hatch-Gagne, an educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.”It seems like we’re approaching a lot of big changes in education, and events like this are great opportunities for those adults who are in charge to really hear from the youth, hear their opinion and use those opinions to shape that changes that are going to come,” said Prescott.Educators say success with students involves variables.”There’s no exact science to being an educator, honestly, and so, every little snippet you get, and every piece of information about maybe one student’s experience will make you help other students,” said Sarah Ricker, the assistant principal at Wisscasset High School.Having help from these students is something they’re happy to provide.”They really stressed getting to talk with their teachers and building relationships, so I took that as conversations between adults, and students, and trying to keep that open, and understanding, and real,” said Emily Boucher, the youth director for Evergreen Covenant Church in Sanford.The students also helped with workshops.