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Youth city council to debut tonight

The six Zephyrhills High School students will make presentations to English classes and hold a forum to educate others about local government.

By BRADY DENNIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001


ZEPHYRHILLS -- City Council members will meet their youthful counterparts for the first time tonight.

Members of the newly formed youth city council will be introduced at today's 6 p.m. meeting at city hall.

The six interim youth council members, all of whom applied and were appointed, will get the program up and running in time for an April election at Zephyrhills High School.

"We are all excited about it," said Bob Hatfield, a ZHS government teacher who helped get the program on its feet. "These kids are among the very best our high school has to offer. They are dynamite."

Vanessa Bowman, Chris Black and valedictorian Mamie Wise are the council's three seniors. There also are three juniors: Ashley Parsons, Marie Risavalto and Jennifer Kriebel.

Hatfield said the current crop of young leaders will make presentations to English classes throughout the school, as well as hold an after-school forum to educate fellow students about local government.

The idea for a youth council was the pet project of City Councilwoman Cathi Compton, who was proud to see her idea come to fruition.

"It's a very positive program, and I feel like most council members are supportive of our youth," Compton said recently. "I'm sure it will be exciting to (the youths). Working in politics was new to me just two years ago, and there's such an enormous amount that you can learn from it."

Hatfield said the young politicians aren't the only ones who will benefit from having a youth council:

"I think it's going to be good for the council as well to hear from young people and see that there are a lot of positive kids out there who can actually contribute some ideas we elder statesmen sometimes overlook."

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