Heights High Options Program hosts community summit

Law enforcement representatives who attended the Heights High Options Program summit: (back row, from left) C. Randolph Keller, chief prosecutor, Shaker Heights; Detective Grafton, Shaker Heights; Police Chief Porrello, Lyndhurst; Police Chief Hammett, University Heights; Police Chief Nietert, South Euclid; Police Chief Robertson, Cleveland Heights; Thomas Roper, retired CH officer; (front row, from left) Officer Tomorrow, Lyndhurst; Lieutenant Orians, University Heights; Options student ambassadors Cherronn Hodges, Nathan Jolly, Aaron Hemphill; Investigator Berry, Cleveland Heights; Officer Mack, Cleveland Heights; and Brian Williams, Options Program coordinator.

The Options Program, Cleveland Heights High School’s alternative high school program, hosted a community summit on Oct. 8, with local law enforcement and 60 Options Program students participating. Police chiefs, detectives and officers from Cleveland Heights, University Heights, South Euclid, Shaker Heights and Lyndhurst attended the event.

Brian Williams, Options Program coordinator, explained the purpose of the event. “The community summit was designed to provide local law enforcement and our students a space to talk about community, respect and communication,” he said. “Our students had the opportunity to understand what it is like to walk in the shoes of a police officer and the officers were exposed to the success and resiliency of our students.”

The summit began with a brief welcome and introduction of all law enforcement officials, community partners, and school district central office administrators in attendance. Students and guests then attended one of three discussion sessions that were facilitated by Options Program staff, which focused on characteristics of a healthy community, respect and positive communication.

Participants compiled lists of the attributes of a healthy community, including: civility, litter-free, activities for citizens of all ages, order and beauty. The importance of giving respect in an effort to receive respect was a central theme throughout the sessions. Participants also discussed the healthy impact that positive communication has on a community.

The summit concluded with a handshake line, with students and law enforcement representatives exchanging handshakes. One Options student said, “This is a day that I will always remember.”

Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson said he thought that the event helped build community relationships. “I look forward to future opportunities to work with the Options students, and expanding the relationship between the police department and the Options Program,” said Robertson.

After the event was over, Williams reflected on the discussions and interactions that took place during the summit. “Our goal was to humanize the discussion and continue to build a stronger community together,” said Williams. “Our mission was accomplished today.”

Joy Henderson

Joy Henderson is the parent/community liaison for Heights High.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 2:40 PM, 10.30.2015