MILLEDGEVILLE — Georgia Military College Prep School junior Analese Bridges said she is excited to further her leadership skills and get motivation from local leaders while participating in the Mayor’s Commission on Youth Development.
“I really like volunteering and I’m really an advocate for education and literacy. When I heard about this [program], I knew this was right up my ally; it’s something I really wanted to do,” said the 17-year-old, who plans to eventually enroll in law school at Duke University. “I want to use groups like this to step off and be a change in the community. Overall as youth, we have a responsibility to the community to serve and take away from every experience to become even better than we can imagine.”
Along with Bridges, 16 fellow high school students were also recommended for this year’s Mayor’s Commission. Students were inducted into the 2013 program during an investiture ceremony last week.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the mayor and getting to know him,” said Johnathon Currie, a Baldwin High School freshman who plans to go into the military upon graduation.
Mayor’s Commission Special Projects Leader Isaac Cleveland said the program helps develop the knowledge, skills and values youth need to be effective active citizens.
“An effective active citizen is a person who understands the obligation and undertakes the responsibility to improve community conditions, build healthier communities, and address social problems,” Cleveland said. “A civically active individual understands and believes in the democratic ideal of participation and the need to incorporate the contributions of every member of the community.”
Mayor Richard Bentley initiated each student into the program with certificates as proud parents, friends and family members snapped photographs.
“When you go through this program, you will find that you have more in common than you think. Hopefully you will get out of it what you put into it, and hopefully you feel that you’re better prepared for life and school,” he said to the students. “These youth will serve as the forerunners of a larger group of Baldwin County young people who will become familiar with local democracy and serve as advocates for youth concerns.”
This year’s commission students include Bridges, along with William Asapansa-Dennis, Quatavius Brisco, Amari Dean, Deandre Dennis, Terri Edwards, Christopher Johnson, Faith Peeler, Antonio Roberson, Dejanaye Scott, Angel Simmons, Kamia Solomon, Jallon Tipton, Melissa Williams, Shakila Williams and De’Asia Wilson.
“We know these children are going to be the ones that look over us when we get older. I want to give a shout-out to the mayor for being wholeheartedly involved in the program and to Georgia College for being a major contributor to making this program happen as well,” said Bridges’ mother, Barbara Bundrage. “I look forward to [Bridges] to continue her growth, maturity and understanding of what it means to give back and not always receive. I would like to see the program grow and become infectious.”
This year, students who show 100 percent participation and commitment in the Mayor’s Commission will be eligible to receive at $150 to $200 scholarship.
Students will meet Cleveland once a week after school to work on their visionary project topic — the importance of education.
A field trip to the state capital is in the planning stages to allow students to meet state-level governmental officials and see first-hand the inner-workings of government.
Baldwin High senior and 2011 Mayor’s Commission alumnus Christen Moon said her experience in the program was “nothing short of amazing.”
“The most enjoyable parts of the program were the trips we went on. I got the chance to participate in my first mock trial and see how things are done at the Supreme Court. I got to meet the senator and learn how laws are made,” said Moon, who plans to major in nursing at Kennesaw State University. “What I took out of the program is that even the smallest thing you do in the community can make a huge difference in numerous ways. I hope this class will gain a sense of public service.”
Students will continue to meet once a month at City Hall to hear and discuss issues that affect youth with the mayor and local speakers.
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