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Youth Council students in China Grove are goal-minded

CHINA GROVE – Students on the Mayor’s Youth Council have big dreams for the future.

About 30 students are affiliated with the council, which meets once a month, representing  China Grove Elementary School, Bostian Elementary School, China Grove Middle School, Carson High School and South Rowan High School.

The group was started in the spring and aims to keep youths informed by partnering them with mentors who are knowledgeable in a field of study or practice and who closely align with their passions.

The initiative targets youths who may not have “traditional leadership skills” or students who may be shy. Each student is nominated from submission forms sent by school administrators to teachers.

Students from South Rowan High School said the council has been a beneficial factor in moving toward their goals.

“I try to make all the meetings that I can once a month, and it’s helped me to know what’s going on in town. I didn’t really know what was going on in China Grove beforehand,” said Raychel Harrity, an 11th-grader.

Harrity said the council has provided guidance about careers she is interested in –economics and risk management.

China Grove Mayor Lee Withers tasks the youths to find what they are passionate about and look for ways they can get involved in town through job shadowing and more.

In Raychel’s case, the goal is to have her shadow someone who works in finance to give her a good picture of the career field, Withers said.

“You can read a story or see it on the news but not understand how important it is. Now I am able to see just how important it is and what goes into it,” Harrity said. “I enjoy the Youth Council because it has me to look at the future, and look at how we’re growing and how we’re going to get there.”

Harrity said she aims to become more involved in the community and enjoys how the goals of the council are personalized for each individual.

“What I really appreciate is being selected for it. It makes me feel qualified. You have a group of students selected because of so many special qualities that they possess,” said Harrison Shepherd, also in 11th grade. “I’ve been able to learn about how those who work in maintenance and work in electricity take care of our town and been able to see how that works.”

Shepherd has considered a number of careers but is undecided. He said he would like to possibly become a doctor.

“My dad’s a doctor, and I enjoy going to the hospital with him and going to his office,” he said. “I am most passionate about helping people and being able to provide guidance to others.”

South Rowan High School senior Kody Barringer said he most enjoys knowing what’s happening in town and seeing how it happens.

“I want to own my own business in hauling and grading and to one day prepare sites for houses, and I know that this will be a help,” Barringer said.

Barringer said he has enjoyed being able to attend recent China Grove town board meetings, too.

“The first night I went, I thought that was pretty cool to see a different side of things,” he said.

He mentioned shadowing those who work locally in planning and zoning and expressed interest in shadowing a site developer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Students on the council and enrolled at China Grove Middle School also expressed excitement about the new group.

“I’ve learned a lot about how much money is needed to run China Grove, which may be helpful to me, seeing I am thinking about going into interior design,” Kyndal Sigmon said.

Simeon Parker said the council has helped him to find ways to make the town “a better place.”

Cadence Bailey, who dreams of owning a restaurant, says she has been able to learn about China Grove growth and improvement.

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