You would think that after 104 city council meetings, I’d have seen pretty much everything.
You would be wrong.
“Six students from Mr. Barger’s government class have been with council members today,” Mayor Damon Welch explained to onlookers curious about the half-dozen teens occupying the dais. “Tonight they will be participating in our council meeting.”
His young shadow mayor stood awkwardly beside him. “Whereas, seniors from Madison Consolidated High School–and actually one junior, by the way–” Mayor Welch bragged, jabbing a thumb toward his own protégé, “–learned about local government, I proclaim today Student Government Day.”
Like a driver’s ed instructor passing the keys, Welch then said, “without further ado, I’ll turn over the meeting to our Student Mayor, Clate Winters.”
Clate flipped over his notes and fidgeted with the microphone. Mayor Welch pointed with his pencil and whispered something.
“Mr. Clerk Treasurer, would you please call the roll?” inquired the Student Mayor hesitantly.
One by one, council members yelled “here!” from the wall behind their normal seats.
“Have you had the opportunity to review the minutes?” Clate read from his script, so nervous that he pronounced “minutes” as min-OOTS. “Is there a motion to approve the minutes?”
A great deal of whispering commenced at the dais. “Say aye!” council members hissed to their fill-ins. With some giggling, the minutes were approved.
The Student Mayor gestured to Student Council Member Casey Williams. “Thank you, Mr. Mayor,” Casey smoothly transitioned. “July 8 shall be known as Student Day. High school and college students will be given free admission to Crystal Beach Swimming Pool.”
“Nyla, you did speak a lot this afternoon about this,” eagerly interjected Mayor Welch. “Share some thoughts.”
The girl on the end chuckled anxiously. “We wanted the students to have…something to do, I guess!” She looked around for help.
Casey picked up the mic and launched into a confident explanation. “We wanted to present an opportunity that kept the student body active, but allowed them to exist outside.”
Nice job on the assist, Council Member Williams.
The Student Mayor flipped over his notes again. “Is there a motion to applause?” Welch tapped him on the shoulder. “Approve!” he corrected himself.
The audience was already applauding good-naturedly. But Clate recovered and casually threw Welch under the bus: “The mayor’s handwriting’s not that good!”
Everyone, including the mayor, roared with laughter.
As this boisterous meeting wobbled to the finish line, Mayor Welch asked the kids to explain the vast knowledge they had amassed as council understudies.
“I attended the Chamber of Commerce meeting,” Student Mayor Clate volunteered. “A lot went over my head because, yeah–I’m not used to the business jargon.”
He reflected. “I didn’t understand a lot of it!”
Council Member Laura Hodges introduced her shadow student, Taylor, who promptly took the microphone and described their visit to the sewage treatment plant: “we got to smell a lot of things.”
Council President Darrell Henderson was paired with Casey. “He’s the student rep on the school board,” Henderson explained, “so he thinks this is really an easy meeting.”
“Well, he’s not wrong,” Casey deadpanned to chuckles. At least we know now where he gets that boatload of confidence!
Like a practiced politician, he added that council members “know more in 1/16th of their brain than I have known in my entire 17 years of living thus far.”
Hmm. Casey, howzabout you come back next meeting?