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New Salisbury Youth Council in place and ‘raring to go’

SALISBURY — A dozen Salisbury High School kids looking to build their leadership skills and an adult advisory team with “a heart for youth” are the pieces forming a newly created Salisbury Youth Council.
“They are raring to go,” Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell said Friday in introductory remarks about the Youth Council at Salisbury City Council’s annual goal-setting retreat.
Council members made the chartering of a Youth Council one of their goals at last year’s retreat after hearing an inspiring message about a similar program in Gastonia from that city’s former mayor, Jennie Stultz.
The first-edition, 2013 Salisbury Youth Council is made up of freshmen, sophomores and juniors at Salisbury High. The members were sworn in just a week ago, and they are going about the business of creating bylaws, missions and values.
They intend to be active in community service projects and issues for which they have a passion.
Rosalyn D’Mello, marketing chairman for the group, said some of the passions identified early on involve reducing hunger, decreasing school dropout rates, tutoring middle school students and increasing student involvement overall.
The Youth Council will expand to 18 members next fall, and the youth themselves will be responsible for taking applications setting up criteria, conducting interviews and choosing who the new members will be.
Blackwell said the initial group includes a student with a 4.88 grade-point average, a state champion in tennis and golf, a student who raised $3,000 toward a project in Sudan and two cousins — one a Republican and one a Democrat — who want to start a debate team at Salisbury High.
Each of the cousins also wants to be president some day, Blackwell said.
Tarik Woods is the Youth Council’s first president; Abraham Post, vice president; and Charlotte Kauffman, secretary.
Each member, in fact, has a job title.
“We will make a great difference in the city of Salisbury,” Woods told council Friday.
Other members of the Youth Council are Alexandra Warren, publication specialist; Caleb Miller, social vice chairman; Emma Labovitz, program vice chair; Everado Hernandez, finance vice chair; Katherine Grant, finance chair; Madeline Hoskins, marketing vice chair; Quson Brown, social chair; and Samantha Washko, program chair.
The advisers are Ann Cooper, Jawan Clark, Larry Jones, Luis Sosa Andrade, Milena Sifuentes and Sakinah Riley.
Councilman Pete Kennedy said he was excited about the creation of the Youth Council. “It’s very much needed, and I think we will do well with it,” he added.
Zack Kyle, head of human resources for the city, said $1,500 toward the Youth Council exists in this year’s city budget, and $4,000 is proposed for 2013-14.
For the youth, Councilman Brian Miller said, it’s an opportunity to create something from nothing, and the experience will stay with them the rest of their lives.
“We’re in good hands,” Councilwoman Karen Alexander said.
Previously, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education unanimously endorsed the city’s efforts to establish the Youth Council.
When it is expanded to 18 members in the fall, the Salisbury Youth Council will be open to high school students who might attend other schools, yet still live within the Salisbury city limits.
Mayor Paul Woodson said he will be interested in how the Youth Council grows and expands in the future.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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