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 19.
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 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.
“I want to thank the young people for all questions they threw at me upstairs,” said Councilman Deverick Williams. “I thought that was a great discussion. We had some good feedback.”
During the mock meeting, the students presented ordinances and debated the topics brought up. Some issues brought up include improving roads and adding sidewalks, elderly drivers, creating a laser tag arena in an abandoned department store and providing the mayor with security. The topics ranged from silly to serious, but students thought out 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 thank all of the council-members for taking us so serious and for just showing us what all you do,” said Ricky Tillis II, who portrayed a council-member. “I want to thank the YMCA and the mayor for putting this on and allowing us to be able to come here. I want to thank Ms. Cady for bringing us along because she didn’t have to do that.”
“I really appreciate this,” said Azah Lollar, a mock councilwoman. “It was a great opportunity.”
The program may be responsible for creating future politicians by inspiring the students to pursue politics as a profession.
“It’s inspired me to want to continue to pursue my dreams as a politician,” said Jonathon Summerlin, who portrayed the mayor.
“You all have been a great group,” said Nelson. “I’m very impressed. I feel confident that our future is in good hands with all of you. I wish you the best as you complete your senior year and whatever you go on to after that, I hope that you will be very successful.”