Franklin Community High School students are learning how local government operates and offering their own suggestions to improve Franklin.
The Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council began in June as a partnership between the high school and the Franklin City Council. About a dozen Franklin Community High School students were selected for the council, which began meeting in June with the goal of finding a project that would benefit Franklin residents.
“I think the kids are really excited,” Franklin Community Schools Superintendent David Clendening said. “It gives them a chance to see that there may be many ideas on problems that occur or ways to help, but that it takes a lot of time too.”
The council has helped students have meaningful conversations about their community, and has been a good opportunity for them to learn leadership skills, Clendening said.
Some of the projects the students have considered are a bike-share program, downtown restrooms and an amphitheater for music and events.
“The prospect of being part of our community and bringing new things people enjoy to our community is a really great opportunity,” Franklin Community High School junior Emma Beavins said.
They have had a lot of ideas, but are close to deciding what projects they want to focus on, she said.
“Our goal is to tackle a project we feel would benefit the entire community,” said senior Sam VanderVeen, who is the president of the council.
Once the students decide on a final list of projects, they will present their proposals to the city council, he said.
VanderVeen, who is also an intern with the mayor’s office, said the experience has been eye-opening for himself and his fellow students. Politics, including at the local level, doesn’t always move fast, he said.
“It is a lot more tedious and time-demanding than what people think,” VanderVeen said.
He has long had an interest in public and civic service and this experience has only strengthened it, he said.
“What I’ve learned is a re-affirmation of what I want to do,” he said.