8th and 9th graders form Junior City Council

By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Every Thursday night since the end of May, a small group of 8th and 9th graders have been meeting to discuss ways to make their community a better place.

Samuel Reece, who will be a freshman at Montevallo High School this fall, said the idea came to them after they attended a series of forums sponsored by the Dave Matthews Center for Civic Life, forums that were based on the students’ very own ideas that they had shared during a field trip to the Dave Matthews Center last year.

The forums spurred the publication of an action plan, and the students’ wheels started churning.

“We started talking about a way to make the action plan actually happen,” Reece said. “So we decided to create a council to talk about this stuff.”

But they haven’t just been talking. Dubbed the Montevallo Junior City Council, their mission statement in a nutshell is to improve arts, athletics and overall curriculum at Shelby County schools, according to Reece.

They’ve been attending Montevallo City Council meetings, meeting with the Shelby County School Board, and working with city officials and the Montevallo High School Student Government Association to increase student involvement and leadership within city affairs.

In fact, the council’s very first project, a fundraiser and field day to be held in conjunction with Art Walk and Montevallo Middle School’s Back-to-school Bash, is coming to fruition in just a few weeks. The event is scheduled for Aug. 24 from 4-7 p.m. between Main Street and Orr Park and will include rides and games that will raise money for Montevallo Middle School’s band and athletic programs.

While raising money for athletics has been their focus so far, Reece said that isn’t their only focus. He said they hope to continue discussions with school board officials soon about improving academic courses, and he thinks they will transition into raising funds and awareness of the arts soon while also continuing to raise money for athletics.

“My favorite part about being involved has been learning all these new skills – writing emails, working with people, brainstorming and being able to do all of this with my friends,” Reece said. “(We’re) learning as well as making a change in our community.”

Hannah Stein, a senior and intern at the University of Montevallo who has been working with the group of about 10 students since May, said she has been really impressed with their hard work.

“They’ve just been amazing,” Stein said. “They’ve been giving up their summer to make this happen. When I was their age, I didn’t do anything productive. They’ve been working really hard.”