Milton Council member Mary Ellen Johnson is currently in the process of revitalizing a youth council for the city, which will allow students to see how elected officials operates and allow them to share their insight with elected city officials.

  Milton Council member Mary Ellen Johnson is currently in the process of revitalizing a youth council for the city, which will allow students to see how elected officials operates and allow them to share their insight with elected city officials.

 During last week’s executive committee meeting, the council unanimously approved proceeding with establishing a youth council  following a motion from the Johnson.

“We do not want to leave the youth voice out,” she said. “It is very important.”

The youth council was previously responsible for assisting with such community events like the Scratch Ankle Festival, when the  council was led by former council member Betty Willey, Johnson said.

Johnson said she has already received support from Santa Rosa County School Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick and Milton High School Principal Tim Short. Currently Johnson is seeking to work with administrators, parents and students with the city’s middle schools at Avalon, Hobbs and King on further developing the youth council.

Wyrosdick is more than happy to assist the city on this matter.

“I am pleased to work with Council Member Johnson to develop a Youth Council. The City is a great partner with SRCSD and their input and guidance has been an integral part of the success we have had in our schools,” Wyrosdick said in an email. “A youth council is an excellent opportunity for students to be a part of a problem-solving organization. It also enforces the academia learned in school with a real world application of how government can solve problems.”

Wyrosdick also said the youth council will allow city officials to see the talent of local students.

“Santa Rosa School District is well-known for producing great students and that will remain our focus,” he said. “We have a civic duty to demonstrate to students giving back to our community is a vital part of how creating a community that is successful. Students serving on a youth council will showcase some very talented students with some great ideas. I am excited to see how the contribution of our students makes a difference in our community.”

Darren Brock, principal of King Middle School, is also in favor of having this students participate in the youth council.

“If there is anything out there that can benefit my students, then I am all for it,” he said.

Johnson said input from area youth has recently became beneficial towards city officials in starting a lacrosse program. Johnson said there is a variety of opportunities for city officials to learn from a youth council, some examples include utilizing technology and find more youth-involved opportunities for the Guy Thompson Community Center.  

Although development of the youth council is in the early development stages, Johnson anticipates involving local student government associations, leadership groups and students from the JROTC programs.

 In addition to the meeting, elected council members and attending a regular council and committee meetings, Johnson also anticipates having youth council members visit city agencies, like the offices of the city hall building along with the city’s fire and police departments.

Being on the youth council will give local students “practical experience” into how the city operates, Johnson said.   

Mayor Wesley Meiss was also in favor of bringing back the youth council.   

“That is something I am excited to hear about on the agenda and it is something I wanted the city to get back to for years,” Meiss said. “It’s going to bring buy back in to the city for the youth, who are going to see how the government works and perhaps make the decision when they do grow up… (and) choose the City of Milton to live.”