High school students gather at Roanoke College for "much needed" conversation

Speak Up: A Youth Voices Rally draws in 20 high school students

SALEM, Va. – United Way along with several other local organizations gave high school students a chance to discuss tough topics at the Speak Up: A Youth Voices Rally at Roanoke College Saturday.

Students across the New River Valley engaged in the kind of conversation they say is much needed.

“Oftentimes high school students don't get an opportunity to talk with other high school students about equity and diversity,” Makayla Bibby, a student at North Cross School, said.

She is one of 20 students who weighed in on the biggest topic of the day, safety.

After the deadly shooting in Florida, students shared their thoughts about security at their own schools.

“Our hearts were hurting for the students in Florida. It made us more aware of the securities in our schools,” Bibby said.

Edgar Jimenez of Patrick Henry High School was pleased to be part of the open discussion.

“It helps to come to these types of events, meet new people, hear different opinions and just kind of give your view of things,” Jimenez said.

Director Katie Kennedy of United Way hopes to plan more opportunities like this for students in the near future.

“It's really important for students to have a safe space to have conversations about tough topics, so we really want to give them the opportunity to feel safe and comfortable,” Kennedy said.