High school wasn't an especially fulfilling experience for Dr. Traci Pierce, superintendent-elect of the .
As Pierce told the 115 or so junior high and high school students who gathered Thursday for Redmond's bi-yearly youth summit, she attended high school in an Idaho town where teachers had low expectations of their students and spent most of her teen years not caring about school.
But after graduating and working at Pizza Hut, Pierce eventually realized attending college was the right thing for her to do, despite having had little to no encouragement from her family or high school teachers.
"We can't expect others to be positive influences," Pierce said during the opening assembly for the day-long event at the . "That spark of ignition comes from inside ourselves."
The students who attended Thursday's summit spent the day attending workshops that both gave them advice on succeeding in high school or junior high and beyond, and allowed them to voice their opinions on what programs and opportunities they would like to see offered to young people in Redmond.
The event was sponsored by the Redmond Youth Partnership Advisory Committee and was attended by several city officials, including Mayor John Marchione, Teen Programs Director Ken Wong, and several Redmond City Council members and city staff members.
Hannah Kuracina, an eighth grader at , said she attended the summit to learn more about the transition to high school and to voice her own opinions.
"I wanted to be able to hear other people's ideas and also share mine," Hannah said.
Classmate Allison Collier, also an eighth grader at Redmond Junior High, said she is relatively satisfied with the level of activities for young people in Redmond.
"But there's always room to improve," she said.
During an opening session, students broke into small groups to brainstorm what attractions or programs they'd like to see added in Redmond. Recreational facilities such as a new sports complex or put-put golf facility were on many of the lists.
Chris Cullen, a program coordinator at the , stressed to summit participants that their ideas are in fact taken seriously. The teen center itself, for example, originated with a group of local youth who wanted a new place to hang out, Cullen told a group at one of the event's smaller sessions.
"You guys have way more power than you think you do," he said.