Kids take over Town Hall
AVON – It was a role reversal. Instead of sitting behind the dais, Avon Councilwoman Tamra Nottingham Underwood stood behind a podium facing a council of elementary school students, reading a proclamation. “Whereas, democracy in the United State of America is based on government of the people, by the people and for the people …” she read in her characteristic loud, rapid-fire speech. On and on she read. The students from Avon Elementary School were silent, brows furrowed.
“… this partnership will enhance communication between the school and the town and focus on leadership within our school,” Underwood finally finished. She looked at fifth-grader Lindsey Halvorson, Avon Elementary’s school president. Halvorson stayed quiet.Although the Avon Elementary student council hosts regular meetings, proclamations aren’t usually a part of them. But in honor of the Avon Elementary’s student council hosting their meeting in the Avon Town Hall council chambers – just like the grown up
Avon Town Council – the town of Avon was compelled to write up a little something acknowledging the new partnership between the school and town. “It’s a way for the students to understand the responsibilities of an elected government official,” said Avon Town Clerk Patty McKinny, who helped organize the student council’s visit to town hall. “It gives them a chance to sit in a real council chamber and conduct a meeting.”Still reeling from the proclamation, Lindsey looked out at her council – nearly 30 representatives from Avon Elementary classes.”Did anyone know what that means?” she asked.They group shook their heads.
So Underwood, who is also a mother, patiently dissected the proclamation, after which the children unanimously approved it – with a little more help from the councilwoman.With the business of approving proclamations out of the way, it was back to the student council’s regular agenda. Vice President Charlie Grant updated the group on the school’s progress on the Pennies for Patients fundraiser. The class that collects the most money to be donated to cancer patients will get a pizza party, she reminded to group. They may be young, but the fifth-grade officers take their jobs seriously, and when it became apparent that some classes hadn’t been counting money regularly, Charlie, Lindsey and Secretary Amy Sherman chastised the group for their sloth and reminded them of the worthiness of Pennies for Patients.
Lindsey shared her sketches for the school’s beautification project, in which she added strategically placed trees and shrubs to get kids to use the sidewalks instead of cutting through the grass. Treasurer Judy Castaneda updated the student council on how the school store was doing. Days later, Lindsey still smiled widely remembering her time at town hall.”It was so much fun,” she said. “It was so cool to be up there,” she said. The cookies and popcorn the town provided didn’t hurt in winning the children over either.
“That was a dream come true,” third grade student council representative Stephanie Rivera said to Mark Blickenstaff, the teacher liaison for the student council. Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or email@example.com.