Officers from Oswego High School’s National Honor Society chapter were invited to a special ceremony on Sept. 21 at the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum, where U.S. Rep. John Katko helped the students and Oswego community celebrate the passage of the Fort Ontario Study Act. The legislation has aimed to put both Fort Ontario and the museum well on its way to becoming a national park, a fete the high schoolers said has been joyous to see from beginning to near end.
OHS graduate Danielle DelConte led the effort during the 2017-2018 school year where hundreds of OCSD students from the elementary, middle and high schools wrote letters imploring members of the Oswego County Legislature to advocate for their backyard treasure to finally receive the honor it deserves.
“It’s important for people to understand our connections of the past and how it relates to our future,” DelCOnte said.
Rep. Katko, who gave DelConte a high-five before the event began, praised the involved OCSD students for modeling democracy in action. He then called on each of them to be future leaders. Their efforts were also praised by various elected officials, community members, OHS Principal Patrick Wallace and OCSD Superintendent Dean Goewey, who said he hoped other OCSD students learn from this experience that the voice of youth is powerful.
Rep. Katko said the 263-year history of the fort will be preserved through these efforts and a national park designation will help develop Upstate New York’s heritage corridor. A preliminary study of the site will take place once the Fort Ontario Study Act is signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump. That study will determine whether Fort Ontario meets all criteria to be named a national park, Rep. Katko said.