Borough Council member Andrew Atkinson has recently announced that the Oxford Youth Advisory Council (OYAC) has been selected.Seven Oxford Area High School (OAHS) students will be sworn in at the upcoming Borough meetings as the first assembly to serve as a liaison between the youth of the community and the Borough.
"The OYAC will enable youth to work towards goals that empower all of the community's youth, and undertake service projects that enhance the community," said Atkinson, organizer and adult advisor of the OYAC.
The seven nominees are Hope Crowl, junior, Melissa Hubley, senior, Greg Hudler, senior, Catherine King, sophomore, Maria Lombardi, sophomore, Amanda Saul, sophomore, and Nicole Scholz, senior.
According to the students, their main goal is to establish communication between the youth of Oxford with the adults of Oxford. The OYAC also hopes to create a more united and enjoyable atmosphere for the teens in the area-and to develop a place for the youth to hang out and get together.
"The primary reason that I wanted to join the youth council was because I feel there are a lot of things that don't get communicated well between older and younger generations in Oxford," said Hubley. "There is a lot of discontent about things-like skateboarding-and our youth needs to be heard. I hope to give us a voice."
"What we are hoping to do is to get area youth more involved and to have a better outlook on the community," said Crowl. "We want to find a way to bring everyone together and to stop segregating age groups-there should be a place where all kids can get together, and a community that everyone can get involved in."
"I believe that we [the OYAC] will be a very dominant and enthusiastic group and I hope that it will show that youths do have opinions and do care for their community," said Lombardi. "I believe that this council will instill a sense of community in the youth and allow me to take an active role in our town."
"The Youth Council should bring more unity and a sense of community around Oxford," said King.
"We want to bring something for kids our age to do, because-although I don't want to say there's nothing to do-there isn't much for kids to do locally, other than to get into trouble," said Scholz.
An idea that all nominees shared in common is to host a concert in the Oxford Memorial Park-or another local venue-for kids of all ages, featuring student bands. This type of event would not only showcase the talents of local youth, but also create a fun activity for kids to attend.
Although all the students share a common goal and idea, this 'battle of the bands' idea is merely brainstorming. The OYAC has not yet formally met so no ideas have been approved. A budget and other restrictions have not been established yet and will affect any project they pursue.
Regardless of the limitations that the OYAC may run into, all seven students appear to be very motivated and excited at the opportunity to make a difference in their community on behalf of their peers.
"I am hoping to bring a little insight to the Borough Council and the community about our youth. I will be a senior this year, so I think that I will be able to counterbalance some of the younger voices, because our youth encompasses a large group and age range," said Hubley.
"I hope to bring a positive attitude to the council, as well as better communication between people my age and others who have been here for a while and who have a different outlook on things," said Crowl.
Lombardi is no stranger to the Borough Council, because she has attended several meetings and her mother, Sue Lombardi, is a Council member.
"I have always been interested in politics and I follow the political race closely. I believe this will help me to apply principles to the community on a much smaller scale," said Lombardi. "I am extremely excited about partaking in the Oxford Youth Advisory Council."
Because the OYAC has not discussed, in depth, their goals and responsibilities, the students are still unsure exactly what they will be doing, but they do know that they will have the unique opportunity to speak their mind to the people who can create change.
"It's a new program, but it's something new and it's something interesting," said Hubley.
There will be a one day training session in August where the Youth Council will meet several local officials and learn some basic ideas and concepts of local government. September will bring the first official meetings and the election of officers.
Four of the seven students will be sworn in to the OYAC at the start of the Oxford Borough Council meeting on Monday, July 21 at 7 p.m. The other three students, who had prior obligations, will be sworn in at an August Borough meeting.
After being sworn onto the Youth Advisory Council, each member will serve for one year. They will have the opportunity to re-apply the following year if they will still be a student at the OAHS.
"I am personally extremely proud of these seven nominees," said Atkinson. "They are hard workers and they have stressed to both myself and co-advisors Ashley Henry Whiteman and Heidi Galdes that they will take their new jobs seriously."