Teen takeover: Gadsden City High students run city hall for a day

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Messenger Staff Reports

About a dozen Gadsden City High School students participated in the Coosa Valley YMCA’s annual Youth in Government Municipal Day this past Tuesday (Apr. 21). Students served as members of the city council and other city officials and presented and debated new city ordinances. 

“It was really informative,” said interim city attorney and GCHS senior Harsh Sinha. “I learned about how the information needs to be relayed to the public and the different processes through which it has to be relayed and all the various legal issues involved.”

Each youthful city council member drafted and presented his/her own resolutions or ordinances that were debated by the students. The pressing issues facing Gadsden youth ranged from elderly drivers, to more electronic cigarette smoking rights, to seeing that Convention Hall be renovated.

Each resolution prompted engaging debate from students who stood on both sides of the issue. Students asked pertinent questions related to funding, tax distribution and equal rights. 

“I might consider becoming an engineer and studying engineering in college after today,” said Carlie Williams who served as the city’s student engineer. “We talked about issues related to the roads and traffic, and expanding the lanes on Meighan to prevent wrecks.”

The city’s student mayor was Nolan Boatner who is a senior planning on attending Mississippi State on an academic scholarship to study accounting. Boatner said he didn’t have to campaign to be selected as mayor, but did get to spend some time learning from Mayor Sherman Guyton who was recently re-elected last fall. 

“It’s been a great experience,” said Boatner. “I’ve learned a lot about the way our city runs and everything we’ve got going on here, and it’s just been a wonderful experience. I spoke with Mayor Guyton for about an hour and learned about some projects he’s got going on and how he got into politics and how he became mayor.”

Asked if he had any personal political aspirations, Boatner replied “not right now.”

Students who attended Youth in Government Day were selected by their teacher to represent the school. Some trained for a little while during class, and some didn’t have to train at all due to their prior political interests. 

It’s safe to say, more can be expected from the young politicians who took over Gadsden for a day.

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