Helena teens attend first ever movie night

Published 1:30 pm Friday, July 14, 2023

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HELENA – Around 350 teens gathered at Helena High’s football field on Thursday, July 13, for the city’s first-ever teen movie night.

“One of the main things we ask when we interview students for Teen Council is ‘What could we do differently in Helena?’ said Chris Bankley. “And over and over again they say, ‘Have more activities for teenagers.’”

Helena’s Teen Council is an organization for High School sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in being involved with city government. Potential members undergo a rigorous application process, including a written application and interviews with different city council officials. 

“Last spring, we had 41 applicants, but only 14 spots available,” said Alice Lobell, Helena city council member and Teen Council sponsor. “And this is a very diverse group of kids, in that they would probably never even know each other if it were not for Teen Council. We’ve got athletes, cheerleaders, band members, students who taking care of their GPA as their main concern, artists and all sorts of people. It’s a great way for them to learn how to work with different kinds of people.”

Teen Council members are expected to help with city-run events such as decorating the city’s Christmas tree, picking up trash and volunteer work. The teens are also expected to attend City Council meetings.

“It’s very important for the young people to know what’s going on with the city,” said Lobell. 

Lobell also makes a point to take the Teen Council to Montgomery yearly to experience State Government and how it works. This usually involves meeting members of the state legislature and occasionally even seeing the governor.

Despite the program having existed for well over ten years and the high level of involvement with Helena City Council, this movie night is the first time the Teen Council has put on a community event themselves. All reports indicate that it was a massive success.

“I think we publicized it really well,” said Peter Haywood, current head of Helena’s Teen Council.

Haywood has served on Teen Council for three years, and he only has a few months left with the group before he leaves for college in the fall. Like many members of the Teen Council, Haywood initially joined because he wanted to get involved with the city of Helena and learn more about local government.

“It’s been a great way to meet people in the city,” said Haywood.

Being able to help organize and publicize a first-time event like Teen Movie Night is one of the last major projects Haywood will be working on for Teen Council, and Haywood is happy with how the event went.

“It was really good,” said Haywood. “It went better than any of us thought it would.”

Teen Council was able to pay for most of the event’s expenses by selling concessions for $1 and taking care of the cleanup themselves. There are already talks amongst the Teen Council and city council to host similar events in the future. 

“I’m very proud of them,” said Lobell. “I really can’t say that enough.”