Christiansburg has jumpstarted a relationship with student government leaders at the high school that they hope will open new avenues of communication with the younger population of the community.
Two students, Fin Jennings and Regal Pate, will serve as the liaisons this first year and attend council meetings on a regular basis. The partnership is the brainchild on council members Harry Collins and Cord Hall.
The students were introduced during council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, along with Alexandra Kahl, who will serve as an advisor to the partnership.
“Often young people lack a voice in their community,” Kahl said. “This idea will change that.”
She feels this will be a groundbreaking program that others will later follow.
Patel, who is the co-president of the school’s Student Government Association, is excited about the possibilities this new relationship affords and pleased students will now be given a voice in town matters.
“The link between town council and CHS is crucial. The students are citizens of Christiansburg and they need to be represented. They are a huge part of the community and me, being president of student government, I feel it is fit that I represent the students and the school. I want to get informed and know what is going on with the town,” he said.
Everyone involved believes the partnership will do several things including a huge difference in student representation.
“The students are a huge and critical part of the community. They need a say on what goes on in the town. Having a representative go to town council will give us a say in the local government. Before, we barely had any say in the town. But now we do, and it will be beneficial to both the students and the town, which I think is amazing,” Patel said.
Collins agrees that this will allow council to learn more about what is going on at the school and vice versa.
Personally, Patel would like to see the town add more teenage activities and a place where teenagers can learn and be informed about what’s going on in the town.
“I would also love to see more places designated for recreation and sports. There should also be a place where students can learn about our local government. Tourism to the town is also needed. There are many things good in the town right now. I believe the rec center and the aquatic center are great places and investments,” he said.
Council has also challenged the CHS student government association to recommend a name for a proposed connector road between Peppers Ferry Road and Cambria Street The roadway will stretch through the towns proposed new park—Turman Wilson Farm
“What a better way to get the students and the town’s younger population involved with something that makes a difference and will be here for a long, long time,” Collins said.
Councilman Henry Showalter suggested the student government association look into ideas for shadowing town staff and even holding a mock council election as ways to further students’ understanding of local government.
As of right now, Patel doesn’t have any plans to go into local government, but he admits that could change as he starts to attend more council meetings.
In other matters, council also recognized longtime town staffer, Michael Walters, who is leaving the community after 30 years of services. He has been named the town manager in New Market.