Task Force seeks input on student violence in Amsterdam
Proposals for safe activities sought from parents, youth
AMSTERDAM A community group working to battle violence in Amsterdam is asking for input from parents and students.
The Amsterdam Community Task Force, formed in the wake of this summer’s killings of two Amsterdam school students, hopes to refine a list of activities youth may engage in other than violence.
“In the beginning when we had the tragic incident during the summer with our two youths that were murdered, we wanted to create a positive environment in the community and have a place for our students to go,” Amsterdam School District Superintendent Thomas Perillo said.
The school district has been making more use of the former Bacon Elementary school and they cleaned out the gymnasium, a site youths and their parents can consider a safe haven, he said.
The task force, composed of representatives from the school district, the city, St. Mary’s Healthcare, the YMCA and Centro Civico, has been meeting twice a month since students Jonathan Dejesus, 13, and Paul Dampier, 16, were found dead in a field in July.
Two other students, Matt Phelps, 15 and Anthony Brasmeister, 16, have been charged in the killings.
Perillo said the task force hopes to draw local youth into healthy activities — and not just sporting events.
“What we’re down to is brainstorming ideas of what we can offer for our students,” he said.
Two surveys, linked on a posting on the school district’s website at www.gasd.org, aim to draw input from both students and parents.
The surveys ask what types of activities would interest students — from playing basketball to video gaming, arts and crafts, dance, drama and swimming, among other ideas.
The survey seeks to determine if there would be difficulties in traveling to the Bacon School on Henrietta Street and whether students would consider participating in after-school activities on a weekly basis.
The project seeks more than preferences on activities.
Perillo said the task force needs some help and members hope residents may have something to offer.
Volunteers are needed to teach and to chaperone youth activities, and the survey for parents asks if they might be able to spare three hours a week to help out.
“We’re trying to offer a safe environment,” Perillo said.
Parents interested in offering time can contact the school district at 843-3180 or the city’s Recreation Department at 841-4335.