Civic leaders and today’s youth gathered together for a special meeting with Pitt Meadows City council.
The result was a mix of thoughtful discussion, inspiring ideas, and a shared enthusiasm for community, reflected Mayor Deb Walters.
More than 40 Grade 10, 11, and 12 students at Pitt Meadows Secondary sat attentively in the bleachers of the school’s multi-purpose room recently for a unusual learning opportunity.
The students were all from teacher John Rocca’s leadership class, and accompanied by principal Mike Keenan.
“It might be the only time some of these kids see a council meeting,” Keenan said.
Highlights included an introduction of council members, a PowerPoint planning update on Pitt Meadows 2014 centennial celebration by centennial coordinator Erin Mark, and a presentation by Grade 12 students Janelle Kent and Cole White – prepared by Duncan Stefurak and Mark Almariego.
The inclusive meeting was capped off with a question-and-answer session between students and council members.
Additionally, students wrote suggestions on colourful Post-It notes and affixed them to the “The Idea Board,” for council’s review at the next centennial planning meeting.
Lorna Jones, director of human resources and communications for Pitt Meadows, used City swag as an incentive, throwing ballcaps to the first few students who offered up ideas.
“I find it refreshing that our City leaders are connecting with the youth of the community by coming to ‘our house’ and listening to students’ feedback and what’s on their mind,” Keenan said.
“I look forward to partnering with our community leaders in organizing and celebrating the many activities that will happen over the next year as part of the centennial celebrations,” he added.
“Feel free to come and visit us any time. Our doors are always open (to council), and we enjoy the opportunity to fill you in on what we’re thinking.”
Kids asked to help centennial
During the centennial presentation, Mark invited students to think about participating, and asked them to offer their time and skills to centennial celebrations.
“We want you to consider how you can volunteer,” she said. “There are a lot of opportunities and fun jobs available, and you just need to pick what you are good at and get involved.”
The school’s career centre is offering a work experience opportunity for any student – who wants a career in event planning or public relations – to be a part of the planning committee for the 100th anniversary.
Additionally, Mark noted they need students’ ideas on entertainment, themes, activities, prizes, and contents, and revealed a list of centennial youth projects for students to volunteer their time, including citizens of the century, an art show, a time capsule, a community banner program, May-pole dancing, and a video contest.
Students expressed a variety of ideas of what they would like to see at the centennial celebrations. Suggestions ranged from a talent show, and museum involvement, to an obstacle course activity.
“I was thrilled to see the students’ eagerness to get involved,” said Mark.
“There were so many great suggestions that we ran out of time. I look forward to working with the students and staff of PMSS on several projects that help showcase their community pride.”
Students question council
The Q&A section offered a lively exchange of thoughtful queries from students and detailed replies from council.
“I was talking to Holly Burrows, our social studies department head, who organized this event,” Keenan said.
“She told me that the kids wrote their questions themselves and were given class time to prepare. They were asked to write down what was on their mind, and what was important to them.”
Can playing fields be improved? asked Ethan Chung. Holly Christianson inquired about the installation of more garbage cans and recycling bins.
“The fact that students are conscious of our environment is impressive,” Walters said.
“Those are the types of things that impress me a lot about our youth. The students were enthusiastic and their questions were really thoughtful and reasonable.”
“I want to compliment all of you and express how proud I am of you,” the mayor told the students.
“PMSS is near and dear to my heart. I was the dry grad chair in 2003 and 2005, and both my children are graduates of the school. I have a lot of pride for PMSS, and when you leave here, I hope you take that pride with you.”
It was evident students felt equally impressed with council and articulated their support for the meeting.
“I like that council took the time to come here and listen to us; it was great that they took our opinions into consideration,” said Ellen Harrison.
“I like how everyone in the audience felt they could participate,” said White. “They expressed their ideas about issues in the community.”
Kent added, “It’s not like sending a letter, where you don’t know if it’s actually been read or not, but here, we got their immediate reaction.”
As the meeting came to a close, the collective buzz continued. Small groups of students conversed with one another, engaging with their peers, educators, and councillors.
“This meeting was a big success,” said Keenan. “The school would love to make this an annual event.”
No word yet from council.
@ Copyright 2013