By Sarrah Peters
More than a dozen Gadsden City High School students participated in the Coosa Valley YMCA’s annual Youth in Government Municipal Day on Tuesday, April 18.
The YMCA of Coosa Valley’s Youth in Government program “gives youth the opportunity to learn firsthand about government and civic issues by taking an active role in the democratic process.”
The students certainly took active roles to learn more about government and how it works. Students were introduced to the processes of city halls and were able to interact with members of the city council and the mayor. The students attended the city council meeting and then served as members of the city council and other city officials in a mock meeting.
At the council meeting, city officials gave political advice and expressed gratitude to the students for taking the opportunity to learn more about politics.
“We are certainly glad to have you here,” said Mayor Sherman Guyton.
“I encourage you all to get involved in government in city, state and national,” said Councilwoman Cynthia Toles. “There’s a difference in being involved and just listening on the outside.”
“Just remember, you learn more by listening than you do talking,” said Councilman Robert Echols. “I’m a big believer in that. Always, if you run, tell people the truth. They may not like what you say, but they’ll respect you for it.”
During the mock meeting, students presented ordinances and debated the topics brought up. Some issues brought up included seat belts on school buses, mandatory driving tests for the elderly, a non-emergency hotline, expanding the mall with city assistance, a water park, a basketball tournament, adding more storm shelters and a scholarship program. The students discussed the separate components of the ordinances, including budgets, funds, legality and enforcement. Students respectfully disagreed and debated the points they had regarding the issues.
During the remarks by council portion of the mock meeting, the students thanked the council, Mayor Sherman Guyton, City Clerk Iva Nelson, the YMCA and teacher Ernestina Cady-Hardrick, who has been bringing groups of students to city hall for 15 years, for the opportunity.
“I just want to say, I’ve really enjoyed today,” said mock mayor Dakota Patty. “I want to thank the YMCA for sponsoring this and feeding us and letting us come here and see what the local government is like. I think this is a good thing for possible students.”
“Just want to say thank you so much to you, Mrs. Hardrick, for giving us all this wonderful opportunity to really give us a lot more interest in government,” said mock council president Savannah Ray. “I feel like when we just see it on the news, especially right now, it’s not anything we want to touch. And for me, myself, it made it a lot more enjoyable and gave me a renewed interest in it.”
“You all did such a wonderful job of presenting your ordinances and the discussion that you had,” said real City Clerk Iva Nelson. “I thank you for all of your time and effort you put into this. It really showed that you all had done a lot of preparation.”
Before leaving, students received a bag with small tokens from the City of Gadsden.