On Monday, Oct. 21, the Cinnaminson Middle School Student Council took over the township committee meeting at the municipal building for Youth in Government Day. Accompanied by student council advisors Lynda Colella and Alison Palat, students Alex Arnold, Mitchell Dalesio, Maddy Hubbard, Olivia Kamaras, Reyhan Kilic and Sara Schwartz learned what it meant to be a part of their local government.
Youth in Government Day is a national event where local governments collaborate with school districts to give students firsthand knowledge of how government works. The goal of the program is to develop an awareness of how the township functions and to encourage students to become involved with politics.
“We used to do this event many years ago, but stopped for a while,” said Colella. “Last year, we brought it back because we wanted to build the relationship between the mayor and the community. Today, the students learned about the roles and responsibilities of each office in the building”
“The students also got to take a tour of the police station and got to look at all the different aspects of it,” Colella continued. “They really did a good job and they learned so much about how their town runs. That was the most important. They were surprised about a lot of things, like how much responsibility the township has.”
Throughout the day, the student council members were also able to speak with the fire chief, where unbeknownst to them, they learned about how many calls and emergencies the fire department receives.
In addition to the information the student council learned about their township committee, the members also learned about the board of education just a few days earlier at the Cinnaminson Board of Education meeting on Oct. 15 for Youth in Board Service Day. At this meeting, the student council toured the board offices, learned the roles and responsibilities of each board member and read over the board agenda for the meeting.
“I think it was a really good experience,” said Cinnaminson Middle School Student Council President Alex Arnold. “It’s so much fun just to know what they do. Coming into it, I had no idea how much they actually did, but it feels good to be in this environment.”
“I was really nervous to run both meetings, but once I was in it, it started feeling really natural,” Arnold continued. “When we did the elections in school, I had to do a speech in front of about 700 people, so it was pretty nerve racking, but for a setting like this, it felt natural. I originally ran for student council because I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn and get out of my comfort zone, but after seeing the committee and board of education, I can see myself doing this in the future.”
During the public session, residents approached the mic to urge the student council to continue staying in tune with their local government and politics in general. With a national trend encouraging youth to be more involved with government, Youth in Government Day and Youth in Board Service Day are two events to allow students to get a taste of what government is like.