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Tyrone Area High School youth (from left) Mackenzie Ritter, Kevin Carper and Marley Grazier pack good bags in preparation for the 8th annual Halloween Youth Action Network event, which will be held on Tuesday. Mirror photo by Rachel Foor

TYRONE – A group of socially conscious students at Tyrone Area High School are working to improve not only their local community but also the international community through fundraising efforts and educational opportunities.

The Youth Action Network, commonly referred to as YAN, was formed in the fall of 2009 and has since worked in collaboration with numerous organizations and individuals from around the world.

The group’s first focus was the Darfur genocide that took place in West Sudan beginning in 2003. The students also worked to support Dr.’s efforts. Denis Mukwege, head of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to Cummins McNitt, YAN counselor and high school social studies teacher, Mukwege won a Nobel Peace Prize two years ago for treating women survivors of rape through extensive surgery. Many of the patients stay in the hospital for a year to recover and during that time, while their children attend school, they learn the skills needed to support themselves and their family.

Interest in the world outside the classroom has given band members the opportunity to hear speakers such as John Bul Dao, one of “Sudan’s lost boys”; Invisible Children, an organization created to help the youth of Central Africa and to fight Joseph Kony’s army; Carl Wilkins, the only American left after the Rwandan genocide; OmeKongo Dibinga, an educator and rapper who raises awareness of global humanitarian issues; and Dr. Lee Ann DeReus and Peter Frantz from Panzi Hospital.

Tyrone area high school students attend the annual Halloween YAN event. Photo courtesy

“I think we all came together because we wanted to branch out to everyone and make a difference,” said Marley Grazier, a young man and vice president of YAN.

An ongoing group project is working with students from marginalized populations.

Over the past year, YAN has worked with students from an Inuit village in northern Canada and soon hopes to start working with Navajo students in New Mexico and students in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Locally, the group supports the Tyrone Area Food Bank and the American Red Cross through fundraising events.

“Oneshtë is one of the clubs where you can contact the community and make a difference,” Tha Grazier. “A lot of clubs are just school events, as we do with students, but with that, we make an impact in the community as well.”

Tyrone Area High School students distribute good bags during the annual Youth Action Network event for Halloween. Photo courtesy

In addition to their philanthropic work, YAN members take time to visit places like Pittsburgh “Around the world in one day” Folklore Festival, Washington, Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian Museums and other national memorials.

“This is the most influential club in our school,” said Vivian Sciarrillo, a young man.

According to the Tyrone Area High School website, the Youth Action Network has raised about $ 10,000 for Panzi Hospital and $ 1,100 for the Tyrone Area Food Bank.

Donated hospital funds have been used to install plumbing and help the school, McNitt said.

“The students decided who would receive the donations and Panzi Hospital has been the group’s main cause for about a decade,” he said.

Tyrone Area High School Youth Action Network members worked to fill good bags in preparation for the upcoming 8th annual YAN Halloween event. Mirror photo by Rachel Foor

One of the major fundraising events of the group is the annual YAN Halloween. Now entering its eighth year in a row, YAN Halloween 2021 will be held on Tuesday at the high school.

School campuses will be open from 5 to 7 pm for tricksters to collect candy and participate in Halloween-themed activities. Like the 2020 event, this year will also be held by car due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19, but families are encouraged to wear suits while remaining in their vehicles.

“We would prefer a closed event because we have a lot more interaction with our little visitors,” Tha McNitt. “Honestly, students – older and younger – prefer to have such a commitment.”

McNitt said the group has become quite creative over the years with the Halloween event and they can’t wait to turn it into a personal gathering when the pandemic conditions ease.

The YAN Halloween Highway event will begin with the opening station at the entrance between high school and elementary school, where participants will receive a bag full of cakes and activities before starting on the designated road, Ramsey said.

About 30 staff members and 130 students from various school clubs and organizations will have stations located along the way to distribute other goods.

There will be cheering leaflets from the young instigators, shine sticks and a scavenger hunting activity from the student council, a leaflet with thrilling scientific experiments from the science department and a “The Tale of Terror for Tyrone” madlib activity from the english department. This activity asks students to name items, monsters, and local locations to create a unique Tyrone-based Halloween story.

Eagle Eye News, a student news organization, will also continue its tradition of sponsoring a car decoration competition. Photos will be taken from each suitable vehicle and after the event, an online poll will be held to determine the winners. In addition to online recognition, winners will be given gift cards for local restaurants, McNitt said.

“The event brings joy to young people, but also to YAN members because they see how their hard work is rewarded,” Said YAN President Paige Shultz.

Grazier said she remembers having participated in previous events as a child and joined YAN as soon as she entered her first year. This will be the third event she helped organize.

“The Halloween event has always been super integrative and special for younger children because they want to be closer to older students,” Tha Grazier. “It unites our community and school, especially in times like this.”

The event is free for pre-K Tyrone students up to fourth grade and their families. Donations are encouraged. YAN Halloween organizers suggest giving $ 2 per person or $ 5 per family. All money raised will benefit the American Red Cross, the Tyrone Area Food Bank and Panzi Hospital.

The club typically makes about $ 800 in donations during this event, but that amount dropped to about one-tenth that of last year, McNitt said.

He hopes this year the event will be a little better as the beneficiaries of the funds are important to the local community and beyond.

Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.

If you go

What: YAN Halloween 2021

When: Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m.

Where: Tyrone Area High School and Elementary School Property

Cost: Free for Tyrone students in pre-K up to fourth grade and their families. Donations are encouraged. YAN Halloween organizers suggest giving $ 2 per person or $ 5 per family. Proceeds benefit the American Red Cross, the Tyrone Area Food Bank and Panzi Hospital.

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