Kids run Pelham for a day

Valley Intermediate School fifth-grader Riley Coston, who was elected by her peers to serve as mayor for the day, speaks with Pelham Mayor Gary Waters in Waters' office at Pelham City Hall during Youth Government Day April 22. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Valley Intermediate School fifth-grader Riley Coston, who was elected by her peers to serve as mayor for the day, speaks with Pelham Mayor Gary Waters in Waters’ office at Pelham City Hall during Youth Government Day April 22. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Several Valley Intermediate School fifth-graders may have gotten a glimpse into their political or civil service-related futures on April 22, as they got firsthand looks at what it takes to make the city run.

“I’d like to thank all the City Council members for letting me follow them around all day. Maybe I will be a City Council member one day,” said fifth-grader Carla Aleman, who mirrored adult council member Ron Scott during the city’s annual Youth Government Day.

During the first half of the day, about 275 VIS fifth-graders and their teachers visited Pelham City Hall to learn about the city’s government workings. During the visits, the students toured Pelham’s administration offices, library, Revenue Department, court, police and fire departments and public works.

The VIS fifth-graders also recently held a mock election to name a mayor, five City Council members, a Chamber of Commerce president and city department heads from among their peers. The elected department head students then mirrored their adult counterparts for half a day before giving presentations on what they learned during a student-run City Council meeting after the adult council conducted its meeting at 7 p.m.

In addition to Aleman, Ena Imsirovic, Channing Knox, Ellie McPhearson and Maddie Goatley also served as City Council members, and Riley Coston served as mayor for a day.

Xavier Lankford served as city clerk, Addison Watts was the director of human resources, Neil Furman was the city engineer, Zach Johnson was the building official, Jordan Intal was the police chief, Anna Boutwell was the fire chief and Kylie Snyder was the library director.

Josh Rehovsky served as the director of Ballantrae Golf Club, Kristina Owen was the president of the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, Becca Keyes was the director of parks and recreation, Katie Weldon was the director of public works, Kate Flurry was the fire marshal, Caulin Jones was the finance director, Madison Lewis was the court administrator and clerk and Anna Wilkes was the director of the Pelham Civic Complex.

“We unquestionably learned more today than the students,” said adult Council President Rick Hayes. “We enjoyed hearing all of their thoughts and concerns. They are kids, but they think like adults in so many ways.”