what some might consider your
run-of-the-mill city council session:
The appearance of a rubber ducky, the
testimony of a father of 25 and a
schizophrenic member of the public
arguing his case first as a country
bumpkin, then as a ditsy teen.
stuff of which city council meetings are
time, there was one minor difference:
the make-believe session was comprised
of teenagers from an assortment of Tempe
Tempe City Council session, held Jan.
11, represented the high point of a day
during which students were given the
opportunity to learn more about
government by looking over the shoulders
of local officials.
a great way to learn how the city
works,” said David Coon, a sophomore at
Corona del Sol High School.
MYAC, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory
Commission, Student Government Day gave
43 kids the opportunity to follow a
number of city officials through their
daily routines. Participants from the
city included the mayor, department
heads and council members.
seem to really like it. They really
enjoy the career-shadowing component.
(They) gain insight on how to address
issues,” said Kim Bauman, sponsor of
MYAC and supervisor of the event.
backstage pass to the city’s workings
helped to instill values of leadership
and teach the importance of community
involvement to the youth.
want to get involved more,” David said
began with a selection of a mayor and
vice mayor, chosen by the kids to
represent them, leading to a series of
presentations. Those who spoke were MYAC
chairperson Taylor Walton, Tempe Mayor
Hugh Hallman and Student Government Day
Chair Katelyn Murphy.
participating in the shadow portion then
accompanied their staff counterparts to
job locations. The midway point was the
luncheon for students, city council and
the city manager. Later, as the day
began to wind down, the students
prepared for a mock council meeting.
conference, held in council chambers,
was designed to place the students in a
real-life situation with a topic based
on one that had been covered by the
subject of this meeting was the Cosmo
Building, a proposed 16-story high-rise
that would include a grocery store,
above-grade parking, additional
commercial space and residential
condominiums, to be located at the
northwest corner of University Drive and
students put their own spin on their
parts, many fusing comedy with the
seriousness of the issue, their
arguments were anything but farcical.
things happen to tall buildings,” one
student said of Cosmo.
off this statement, the teens posing as
residents argued the new structure would
increase traffic, reduce the feeling of
a community and cost too much.
Supporters countered by saying the
project would bring a much-needed
grocery store to the downtown area, as
well as offer new jobs and attract
people other than students to the area.
relaxed atmosphere, those presenting
were able to be asked questions and be
unafraid of giving the most common of
answers: “I’ll have to get back to you
end, the students proved to see eye to
eye with their real council
counterparts, voting to approve the
council, with members chosen by their
respective schools and designed to
represent each of the five Tempe high
schools, were kept in the dark about the
real council’s ruling.
not to let them know that (how the
council voted),” Bauman said. “No one
had been told.”
meeting closed and the project approved,
the students shed their disguises and
returned to being teenagers. Many of
them said they came away with more than
(us) see if that’s the career (we) want
to go into,” said Katelyn Murphy, a
freshman at Marcos de Niza High School.
the background and not just what you see
(on the outside),” added Jordan Messacar,
a sophomore from Corona.
observed that city officials were able
to get something out of the experience,
obviously interested in the youth,” said
Taylor Walton, a junior at Corona;
“being here means something.”
enjoy it, spending time with the kids,”
added Bauman. “They all show up and they
all seem to enjoy interacting with
and council members seemed to agree:
Supporting activities like this is
important, as it helps ease the
transition of the older generation
leaving and the younger stepping in.
It may be
strange to think of it now, but that
same rubber-duck-wielding teen may be
someday’s fire chief and the
dual-identity student a prospective
“Some of these kids will
be our future leaders, I do believe
that,” said Bauman.