Laughs and learning at Evesham Youth Advisory Committee’s annual Mock Council Meeting

The event allowed kids to learn about the process of municipal government while also having fun and building leadership skills.

Zane Clark/The Sun: Members of the Evesham Township Youth Advisory Committee learned about leadership as they held their annual ‘Mock Council Meeting’ in the municipal court room this week. From left on the dais are Ethan Verrone, Nick Passanante, Brooke Shaprio, Mayor Jaclyn Veasy serving as ‘township clerk’ and Tony Alway.

Evesham Township will not be paying to build an official NFL stadium in town, and the fictitious team dubbed the “Evesham Suburbanites” will remain just that – fictitious.

In fact, the entire issue was fictitious, but it served as good debate fodder when Evesham Township’s Youth Advisory Committee held its annual “Mock Council” meeting this week.

The annual mock council meeting allows the members of YAC to learn about the workings of municipal government by staging a mock version of a township council meeting.

YAC officers sat upon the same dais where the township’s official members of council regularly sit in the municipal courtroom, with officers running their meeting the same as an official council meeting by introducing ordinances, examining issues and listening to comments from “the public.”

Except “the public” this week consisted of other members of YAC, who often tested council’s resolve by adopting funny personas, using humorous voices and proposing solutions that sometimes drifted into the comically absurd.

Deputy Mayor Heather Cooper, who serves as council’s official liaison to the Evesham Youth Advisory Committee, said the meeting allowed students to understand the process of governing and what it means to make policy.

“They could come to a good conclusion by looking at all sides of an issue, and I really appreciate that they had the different perspectives of being for or against an issue and considered who an issue impacts in their town,” Cooper said.

In addition to more the more humorous issue of a potential NFL stadium in Evesham Township, the members of YAC also debated on a somewhat more grounded issue as whether to put more money toward paying crossing guards to stay longer in the afternoon at a local school to assist children who participate in after-school clubs.

After the meeting, YAC member and freshman Brooke Shapiro said she had fun serving as a member of the mock council. Shapiro said she learned much about the order and regulations needed to carry out a government meeting.

She also recommended YAC to other kids in town.

“Kids should definitively join, because we do a lot of volunteering and community service, and we’re also learning more about the government, so it’s nice if you want to get more knowledge of our township,” Shapiro said.

YAC member and eighth-grader Ethan Verrone, who also served on the mock council, said he also had fun listening to the different issues at the meeting.

Verrone, who was originally for the fictitious NFL stadium because of the jobs it would bring to town, actually voted against the issue after listening to residents’ concerns about traffic, crime and long-term viability of an NFL team in Evesham Township.

“At the beginning I thought I was going to be for that because I thought it sounded cool, but they changed my mind, and it was just so fun being up there,” Verrone said. “I’ve always been into government stuff.”

Started in 2011 by former Councilwoman Deb Hackman, the Evesham Township Youth Advisory Committee allows younger residents (those entering sixth-grade through the end of 12th grade) to develop leadership skills by volunteering, participating in civic projects and becoming more involved with the community.

For more information about Evesham Youth Advisory Committee, visit www.evesham-nj.org.