LETTERS: Children lost out in witch hunt against Flagler Youth Orchestra leadership

Also in Letters to the Editor: SWAT gives Florida youth tools to reduce tobacco industry’s influence.

  • By
  • | 5:00 a.m. September 15, 2023
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Opinion
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Children lost out in witch hunt against Flagler Youth Orchestra leadership

Dear Editor:

The children lost, again.

The long-awaited audit of the finances of the Flagler Youth Orchestra is in. 

In spite of the fact that Director Ms. Cheryl Tristam received no guidance from the school administration, it has been shown that she kept accurate records and that neither she nor FlaglerLive received any personal benefits from the orchestra's finances.

Even as the results were presented, School Board member Mr. Will Furry continued to pursue his quest to find something wrong with the audit.

The end result is that the witch hunt found no witches, but the children lost a committed, passionate leader who enhanced the lives of countless young members of the orchestra over the years.

How sad for our community.

Edith Campins

Palm Coast

Editor's note: The audit found a few minor concerns — a handful of snack bar cash receipt revenues weren't properly supported, and some procedures were not followed — but there were "no major red flags,” according to the firm that conducted the audit.

SWAT gives Florida youth tools to reduce tobacco industry’s influence

The need for youth to speak up about the issues they care about is as important as ever, which is why one student-led organization in Florida is leading the way in the fight against the tobacco industry and the addictive products that target youth.

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) is a statewide youth organization focused on educating, empowering, and mobilizing Florida youth to revolt against and deglamorize Big Tobacco. 

As a member of the Flagler SWAT chapter, I believe SWAT is an important cause more youth should get involved in. 

Not only does SWAT educate youth on the harmful effects of tobacco usage, but it also provides students with an opportunity to educate their peers. 

More and more youth have been getting involved with e-cigarettes. It is important to educate our youth on the dangerous effects of tobacco. 

SWAT has been educating and empowering youth and communities since 1998. SWAT has had several successful initiatives throughout the years. 

"Not a Replacement" was a statewide campaign where thousands of youth reminded tobacco companies that they are unique individuals with the potential to make a positive impact on their community. 

"Not a Lab Rat" is a current statewide campaign that focuses on the truth behind e-cigarettes. 

I joined SWAT after attending multiple beach cleanups. I saw the number of cigarettes littered on the beach and got motivated to be more involved with SWAT. 

Flagler SWAT chapter has been working with Flagler Beach to clean up cigarette butts and provide a smoke-free beach and parks. 

The Flagler SWAT chapter participates in several community events, including the recent Back to School Jam, and partners with the Flagler Police Athletic League. 

SWAT has given me the opportunity to participate in three radio interviews to talk about the dangers of youth vaping and SWAT’s upcoming events. I have attended regional and statewide SWAT meetings. These meetings got me motivated to help educate Flagler County students on the dangers of tobacco use. 

By working with peers, students can create change that will keep tobacco products out of Flagler and improve the health of our family, friends, and community. 

SWAT is open to all Florida youth in sixth through 12th grade. 

To get involved, contact Rochelle Stone ([email protected]) or visit SWATFlorida.com

I hope that in writing this, more youth are inspired to stand up and speak out against the tobacco industry by joining our local SWAT clubs.

Karlie Page

Palm Coast


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