Assoc. News Editor
Joe Vulopas has had his fair share of interaction with youth. As an English teacher at Cocalico High School in Lancaster, P.a., he has taught and molded the minds of many high school students. His focus has always been on youth; his mission changed to those with mental health when a sophomore at his school committed suicide. Before and after the aftermath of the local tragedy, Vulopas has believed in empowering students and educators.
“What Aevidum believes in is the youth voice,” said Vulopas, executive director of Aevidum.
A high school student of Cocalico, who translated it into Latin, meaning ‘I got your back’, made up the name. Since its birth in 2003, the program has been an award-winning education initiative with the message that “depression is treatable, suicide is preventable.” Their efforts are aimed at raising awareness about depression and suicide for other students in a similar situation.
It is in remembrance of the high school student who took his own life, who goes by Phil in a six-minute video presented to the audience. In the clip, Phil was portrayed as a person who is usually suffering from depression – happy on the exterior yet sad on the inside. The clip recapped the events that unfolded, from the announcement of Phil’s tragedy, to the students rallying together, and creating Aevidum in the effort to prevent the same incident among other students.
“I hope when you hear the word Aevidum that you want to help because we need your help,” Vulopas said. “We can save lives; I’ve seen it happen.”
Their success is thanks to their supporters, which may correlate, in recent years, to the increase of suicide victims due to bullying across the country.
“[We want] to create a culture of care and advocacy in schools all across this region,” said Vulopas.