2 Clark, Champaign students named to state safety advisory council

The council will develop strategies and potential solutions for school safety.

Two local students, one each from Clark and Champaign counties, have been named to the Ohio Student Safety Advisory Council.

Tanner Elam of Tecumseh High School and Ava Johnson of West-Liberty Salem High School were two of 16 students named to the Ohio School Safety Center’s (OSSC) 2023-24 advisory council.

“It is pretty amazing that I got selected. I was pretty shocked when I figured it out,” Elam said. “I’m just really happy that I can be part of something bigger and hopefully help school safety.”

The council will attend the in-person Ohio School Safety Summit on July 25 and 26 at the Columbus Convention Center to network and take part in information sessions on violence prevention strategies.

Members will develop strategies to encourage others to help maintain a safe school environment and be advocates for student well-being; work with OSSC school safety liaisons to organize events, focus groups and trainings to help highlight student success and best safety practices; and act as a sounding board for the OSSC on student marketing campaigns and other projects to make sure student voices are represented.

Tecumseh Superintendent Paula Crew said this opportunity will allow Elam to meet others on the committee, plus share safety concerns and potential solutions to those concerns.

“Tanner is an excellence choice. He is a leader among his peers and has advocated for school safety,” she said. “This will give Tanner a student voice... This experience will provide an opportunity to network with other students, share ideas from Tecumseh Local and glean ideas from other districts.”

Elam was nominated for the council by School Resource Officer Deputy John Loney.

“One of the biggest safety concerns that needs to be addressed is school shootings, without a doubt. There were 140 injuries and or deaths, so that should be the main focus,” Elam said.

Gov. Mike DeWine created the student council last year, working with OSSC leadership to identify school safety concerns and develop solutions to address them. Students will present their capstone projects at the 2023 School Safety Summit this summer.

“This year’s students worked hard to get their peers and administrators to get involved in safety initiatives throughout the year and each took on separate capstone projects,” said OSSC Executive Director Emily Torok. “We can’t wait to see them present them at this year’s summit and mentor next year’s students.”

Thirteen of last year’s council will return this upcoming school year to mentor the incoming council, and they will continue to work on projects in their communities and school safety improvements.

DeWine created the center in 2019. It’s housed within the Ohio Department of Public Safety and works to help local schools, colleges and universities, and law enforcement agencies to prevent, prepare for and respond to threats and acts of violence.

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