Story by Carmen Duran
Eighteen students, Newton City Council, and an investment in the future — this is Teen Leadership in a nutshell.
Recently, 8 students from Newton-Conover High School and 8 students from Discovery High School were selected to participate in Teen Leadership, a program intended to enable students to find their passion, cultivate their leadership abilities, and spark change in the local community.
Within just four weeks, selected high school students of Newton-Conover City Schools were given the opportunity to tour the Catawba County Justice Center, visit local businesses, and relish treasured artifacts in the Catawba County Museum of History. And while these experiences are nothing to take lightly, they were only a small part of the bigger picture: changing Newton for the better.
Throughout the four-week period, students met and worked directly with councilmen, the mayor, and the city manager of Newton to find a need within the city, design a project, and ultimately, present their ideas to Newton City Council at an official meeting.
On April 5th, each group of students stood before an audience to present their idea to make a change within the local community. While an intimidating task for high school students, the public presentation of their ideas could not have gone any smoother.
The first group, from Discovery High School, centralized their idea of change around solar energy implementation in Newton. The second and third groups to present were of Newton-Conover High School, suggesting a Pre-Teen Leadership Program to better prepare middle school students for high school, as well as advocating for a program to better educate students of the benefits recycling, respectively.
“It was an absolutely wonderful experience, I think, to be able to connect to each other and the town like that. I found out a lot of stuff I hadn’t known before, and thought the presentation was a great way to refine our leadership skills. It was loads of fun,” said Discovery High School student, Logan Keller, following the presentations.
It was evident that by the end of the session, the mayor and councilmen saw potential for student ideas to become an actuality for the city of Newton.
As for Discovery High School, student drive and determination reflected the innovative atmosphere of the school once more. Councilman Tom Rowe saw a “greener” vision for Newton, remarking finally to City Manager Todd Clark to begin looking into the possibility of solar panels atop a governmental building.