Leaders of Tomorrow hold council meeting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Leaders of Tomorrow occupied the chairs of the Montevallo City Council recently, in a &8220;pretend&8221; council meeting.

The Leaders of Tomorrow are seventh-grade students in an outstanding program at Montevallo Middle School.

&8220;Mayor&8221; Rob Derieux called the meeting to order with a sharp rap of his gavel. The minutes of the last meeting were read by Raechell Miller.

When citizens were invited to speak, Lan Wang expressed concerns about the lack of enforcement of the leash law and other problems with dogs in the city.

Alisha Glover read a report from the &8220;zoning official,&8221; Jonathan Smith, explaining the need for citizens to &8220;buy in Montevallo&8221; to increase tax revenues to pay for the services provided by the city.

There were reports given by &8220;Police Chief&8221; Autumn Spangle, &8220;Fire Chief&8221; Raechell Miller and &8220;Librarian&8221; Shadijah Dean.

The &8220;council members&8221; Eric Smith, Alex Peete, Zack Smith, Ian Lee and Brett Gray gave their reports.

Some of the issues discussed were the need for traffic arms at the railroad crossings, the condition of the bridge on Highway 119, too many mobile homes and apartments in the city, new library books and a new garbage truck. No official actions were taken.

The students handled the meeting in a very professional manner. Some of the members of the audience asked what part they enjoyed most.

The &8220;Mayor&8221; said, &8220;I enjoyed using the gavel and we learned a lot, too.&8221; The students had interviewed city officials and expressed that they had enjoyed meeting these city leaders and learning about their responsibilities.

Gregg Stone, the MMS civics teacher remarked, &8220;I am very pleased with this event. Hopefully these students identified with the members of their city government and learned that they, too, can someday become fine community leaders and perhaps sit in those very chairs &8216;for real.&8217;&8221;

The LOT program began at MMS in 2000. The school was approached by a group of citizens made up of business people, city officials and educators who wanted to provide leadership training for students of all academic and socio-economic levels.

The premise was, and is, that there are leaders in all of these levels and that the students demonstrating leadership abilities should be carefully guided and encouraged, especially through the middle school years, so that they use their abilities to lead in the right direction.

The school accepted the proposal and the program became a joint venture led by a board of directors made up of citizens, city government leaders, University of Montevallo instructors and MMS faculty members.

The staged council meeting is an example of the monthly LOT classes designed to familiarize the students with the important elements of life in the community and to help each of them feel that they belong and are important to the community.

Class days are spent in such activities as bonding with each other in a ropes course, visiting classes at UM, touring the Civil Rights Museum, visiting local churches and Shelby Emergency Assistance, and touring the Shelby County Criminal Justice System.

Prior to the staged council meeting the young leaders had visited the city&8217;s fire department and police department and attended a regular council meeting.

For information about the LOT program, contact Nick Foster, Board Chairman at 665-9895.

Catherine Legg can be reached at mailto:clegg2@bellsouth.net