Two Westfield High School (WHS) students were selected by their teachers to attend the National Police Athletic League (PAL) Youth Town Hall Meeting on April 19 held in Arlington, VA. Senior Erica Simmons and 11th grader Matt Reed had the opportunity to dialogue with fellow PAL members, government and community leaders, as well as law enforcement executives from across the country to continue the fostering of a positive relationship among the groups. T
he PAL national leadership was interested in hearing about initiatives within various communities such as Westfield, where students like Erica and Matt volunteer weekly to provide free after school tutoring sponsored by the local PAL.
Earlier in the day prior to the start of the meeting, Erica, Matt, WHS teacher Gail Alston and retired Westfield detective Ron Allen, had the unique opportunity of participating in behind-the-scenes tours of an airport control tower, TSA and US Customs areas, and a joint military base in Washington, D.C.
When asked about his experience in the Washington DC area, Matt explained that he enjoyed the Digital Forensics Consortium the best. “I am taking Forensics in school this year and I’m really interested in it and learning about those types of jobs.”
"We got to see and be part of things we never thought we would,” said Erica, who has been in PAL since 9th grade. “The different lessons taught by Homeland Security and TSA were fascinating.”
Back in Westfield, students of various ages come to Westfield High School once a week to get tutored by PAL volunteers. Matt, who normally provides tutoring in math, and Erica, who specializes in math and science, say they don’t mind giving up their free time after school to help others. Erica will be leaving the PAL program when she graduates this year and enters Johnson & Wales University to study business management and culinary arts.
Looking back on her high school career in PAL, she commented, “I’ve had a great experience in PAL – it’s like a family environment, even on the national level.”