Attention parents and high school students: Get ready for summertime…and for fall! Irvine’s High School Youth Action Team offers outstanding opportunities for young people — teenagers — to serve the Irvine community alongside other civic-minded teens who value public service and working with peers to improve our schools and our City.
I saw firsthand just how effective these bright and hardworking young people could be when I served on the Irvine Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee. Sometimes teens appear to be just token members of groups, but that’s not the case with the Youth Action Team. Their ideas and insights are not only accepted, but are sought out. Their ability to work with others is excellent, and their contributions to our community are real.
A few years ago, because of limited resources, the City’s Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee asked our high school members to develop smaller programs at their respective high schools. At the next meeting, we thought we would discuss possible programs, but the students surprised us by reporting that they had already accomplished the task. They had put on programs for their fellow students — for example, staging useful informational forums on how to get that all-important first summer job.
The students also stage serious topical programs — such as a program on the hazards of tobacco and alcohol use. Another recent program involved the showing of the movie, Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age. The Youth Action Team also organizes events in the arts, including Battle of the Bands and the Teen Poetry Slam and Art Show. At election season, they sponsor programs encouraging voter registration, especially among younger, first-time voters. And a number of activities are of a charitable nature, for example, packaging food for families at local food banks.
There are two levels of participation in the High School Youth Action Team. The first level consists of exceptional high school students who have undergone an extremely competitive process to earn a job with the City. Two or three students are selected from each Irvine high school. The application process for these positions closed in April.
However, a second, larger level of participation involves scores of student volunteers who can join an on-campus Youth Action Team club at their high school. In anticipation of the summer break and the 2017-2018 school year, this is a great way for teenagers to get involved in public service to benefit their peers and the entire Irvine community. And it’s the kind of public service that is always a good thing to have on college applications as well.
Thank you, students, for your leadership and your service! And thanks, as well, to Steve Knollmiller who — working with these high school students as Program Coordinator with the City of Irvine’s Community Services Department — is making such a valuable contribution to our City. By the way, Steve can be reached by phone at (949) 724-6739.