Helena welcomes 2023-2024 teen council

Published 4:06 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – Teens, their parents and city councilmembers all gathered at Helena City Hall on Sunday, Aug. 14 to induct a select few of the city’s up and coming leaders to Helena’s Teen Council. All in all, 25 teens, made up of some returning members and new inductees, were inducted into this year’s iteration of the council.

Following short introductory messages from Councilmember Christopher VanCleave and City Council President Alice Lobell, teens and parents were welcomed with cake and refreshments to celebrate their achievement before gathering together for photographs.

Helena’s Teen Council, now made up of 25 of the city’s promising future adults, is a common sight in the community which helps with numerous events and takes part in multiple community outreach projects. Such activities in the past have included their annual participation in the city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, community cleanup events, movie nights and more. They have also taken part in outreach to Helena’s senior citizens by hosting dinners, visitations and valentine card and flower deliveries.

Mayor Brian Puckett took the time to congratulate the parents of the inducted teens in his opening statements and recognized their role in the raising of the community’s future.

“Parents, well done on raising some amazing kids,” Puckett said. “When we sat in interviews with all of the different applicants, (we saw) it’s amazing how good our kids in Helena are. You can pat yourselves on the back, because you all are the reasons why they are the way they are.”

The short and relaxed event saw the teens provided with new shirts, sweatshirts and nametags that they will use throughout their time on the council and allowed all to gather and get to better know one another and the city officials who were in attendance.

“I feel great about today,” Lobell said. “I love bringing in my new teen council kids and getting to see their parents with them, (and) making them feel comfortable coming here.”

Lobell, who has headed the council for seven years, has grown the roster to 25 students, up from its initial six when she began. Teens on the council are responsible for attending council meetings and garnering at least 20 service hours in the community. Those who were inducted underwent a rigorous process that included the writing of an essay, collecting letters of recommendation and sitting for an in-person interview all in an effort to best select members for a council limited to 25 seats.

“The teen council is extremely important to the city,” Puckett said. “Council president Lobell does a phenomenal job at making sure that all of the teens are led in a way that gets them to learn about local and state government, but also to find out, truly, how our community operates. A lot of it is about community volunteering, that’s really what makes Helena what it is, it’s all (about) community.”

Of the students chosen, there exists a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. Some are focused on athletics, others on purely academic ventures and others falling somewhere in-between. Lobell, sees this as yet another massively positive aspect of the organization.

“I’ve got kids that have such a variety of interests and they probably wouldn’t have been friends in school just because their paths wouldn’t have crossed, but here they become friends,” Lobell said.

It did not take long either for the students to illustrate the kind of character that is in place on the teen council, as several of them quickly organized in the middle of the event to clean up a spill after a glass of lemonade was knocked onto the floor of the chamber.

As they mopped up the area, Lobell could not help but look on in pride at those she is proud to call “her kids”.