ELIZABETH, NJ—May 29, 2013 — On May 28, 2013, Elizabeth students were given the opportunity to observe municipal business as a part of the 59th Annual Youth in Government Day.
“Youth in Government Day provides students with the opportunity to learn about daily operations, participate in the legislative process as well as exchange ideas with City officials,” said Mayor Bollwage. “Some of Elizabeth’s most talented students joined us at City Hall and hopefully this experience will inspire them to become active and concerned participants in government.”
Sponsored by Elizabeth’s City Council, this year’s Youth in Government Day included 37 young people from Elizabeth’s public and parochial high schools. Upon arrival, students were assigned to City officials and spent a portion of the morning learning job responsibilities from their advisors.
The students took an external tour of the city for a first-hand view of the economic development and new initiatives that are occurring. At noon, they gathered for a luncheon at Dolce Restaurant on 17 South Broad Street in Elizabeth.
As a part of the day’s events, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, presented the annual Mayor’s Youth of The Year Award to Alexis Luna, who is a student at the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. Since its inception 48 years ago, the Youth of the Year Award has recognized students for school leadership and community service. Mr. Luna received the prestigious award for demonstrating responsible leadership in school organizations and community service.
Alexis Luna is a charismatic, determined and remarkable student, who is currently ranked number one in his class with a 4.03 GPA. According to his teachers, “in class, he has proven to be a take-charge person, who is able to successfully develop plans and implement them.” Mr. Luna came to the United States at the age of three. Alexis has worked diligently toward earning good grades and pursuing higher education. Aside from his academic achievements, Alexis has played in the concert band for four years and the marching band for two years, where he has won National Championships. He is the current President of the Senior Council and Yearbook Club, as well as the Vice President of the Band Committee, a member of the National Honor Society and youth ministry. The selection committee chose Mr. Luna from a field of exceptional candidates, who were nominated by their high school principals.
“This day gives students a sense of responsibility, passion for community issues as well as a forum to hone leadership and communication skills,” said Councilman-At-Large Frank Cuesta. “Participation in the local government process enables young people to experience the positive impact and difference that can be made through public service.”
The activity-filled Youth in Government Day culminated with an afternoon City Council meeting, where the students served as representatives for their assigned City Officials. Each year the Weekly City Council meeting is changed from its usual 7 p.m. meeting time in order to accommodate the student officials. At the end of the day, the students were presented with certificates of merit for their good work.