MAKING MAYORS: Students see government from the inside

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Tray Earnest, managing member of TG Earnest & Associates, shows students participating in the Mayor for a Day program the upstairs of the Chamber of Commerce located on The Square, a view Troy Mayor Jason Reeves specifically wanted the students to see during their time as mayor and council members.

Seven lucky seventh-grade students had the opportunity to see how government worked from the inside and the City of Troy had the opportunity to see how bright the city’s future could be on Tuesday.

Students from Charles Henderson Middle and Pike Liberal Arts Schools worked in City Hall for the 15th Mayor for a Day program, and Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said this year’s bunch of students included some of the brightest who had applied.

“It’s always my favorite meeting of the year,” Reeves said. “It’s really a dual thing. We get to see through the prism, or spectrum, of these seventh-graders the way they look at their city. We get sort of an unbiased honest view of some of the things that they see as positives and negatives that we can improve upon.”

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Students selected for this year’s program included: Hannah Huner, Miranda Black, Ansley Adams, Jaylen Deveridge, Nick O’Brien, Molly McQueen and Hannah Helms.

Reeves said city officials are able to get ideas of how to improve the city’s infrastructure through the students in the program.

“We get to learn a great deal from them, but we also get to inform them on some things and hopefully interest them in being engaged in their local government. I know it’s a positive thing for the city as an organization, and I certainly hope it has a positive impact on the young people who participate today.”

Students were required to write an essay in order to be chosen, but Reeves said students were asked this year to also do a video presentation.

“In a way to modernize the program, we also had them do a video,” Reeves said. “It allowed them to not only write about what they were passionate about, but they were also able to articulate it in a unique way via video.”

Hannah Helms, who acted as the District 1 councilperson, said her favorite part of being a mayor for the day was seeing how the city and university worked together.

“They had us pack lunch boxes full of food and we sent it to kids who don’t get a nutritious meal every day because their parents can’t afford it,” Helms said. “We packed their lunch boxes with food. We also went to some of the old buildings. We went inside and learned what it was like back then before cars, and they had stagecoaches.”

While students enjoyed their tour downtown and learning more about their city, Reeves said his favorite moment during the entire day was seeing the students run the meetings and watching the looks on parents’ and grandparents faces’.

“I enjoy when they start to run the meetings and seeing the looks on their families’ faces as they get involved,” Reeves said. “I also enjoy reading what they have to say. I enjoy interacting with them, but it’s not often that we get to go into one of these meetings and everybody is smiling and exciting to be there.”

The students participated in a mock-council meeting, and presented to the City Council Resolution 2015-100, which declared the City of Troy’s support for the creation, protection and long-term sustainability of community gardens.

Hannah Huner, who acted as mayor for the day, said the resolution would authorize the use of Knox Street ball field as the initial site for a community garden and would work to generate more funds to help implement future community gardens.

The students’ resolution passed unanimously.

With students being able to have a first-hand opportunity to pass a resolution, Reeves said he hoped the program and opportunity would be a lasting impact on the students, and they would take with them the true importance of their city government.

“Your government is going to function every day,” Reeves said. “Even if you are not directly involved, being an informed and an engaged citizen is important, because government is going to happen whether you’re interested in it or not. If you’re interested in it, you have a much better chance of having an impact on it rather than it having an impact on you.”