Students tackle real-life topics at City Hall visit

LYNN – Student city councilors didn’t waste any time Tuesday getting comfortable with what it feels like to be an elected official before tackling a topic impacting their lives – violence.”It’s getting worse,” said Ward 2 student councilor Alex Amico.Amico and 10 other students from five local high schools spent nearly an hour debating a proposal establishing a youth violence task force. Catherine Stinson, the proposal’s student author, wants students to work with parents, school officials, police officers and community leaders to find ways to end violence.”Where I live, I’ve heard gunshots,” she said.Other students, including Meghan Hansen, said they have witnessed stabbings.”Drugs and alcohol are a big part of this: People are not in their right state of mind,” Hansen said.Debating subjects that matter to young people is part of student government day activities that annually bring several dozen students to City Hall where they get to see how government works.Former Council President James Cowdell walked Stinson and the student councilors through debate techniques to ensure a thorough debate on her proposal. He urged the students to never forget their Lynn roots and “defend the city when you go forward.”Not all of the students participating in government day on recommendations from principals debate city and school issues. Amely Sok and other students tagged along with city officials to find out what a treasurer, an auditor and – in Sok’s case – a mayoral clerk do for a living.Sok likes studying mathematics and enjoyed a peek inside the 1940s-era film projection booth overlooking Veterans Memorial Auditorium.”It’s pretty cool,” she said.Colin Kennedy stepped into his student mayor role with a little prior experience – he grew up spending time in City Hall with his mother – former councilor – now Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy.Mayor Kennedy still recalls the day she spent in 1980 serving as student school superintendent.”They spelled ?superintendent’ wrong on my name tag,” she said.English High School student Amanda Lobo said her day spent as a student councilor boosted her interest in politics.”I like it a lot – I can hold up my end in an argument,” she said.During the student violence debate, she recommended conducting an anonymous student survey aimed at collecting information on how violence has impacted the lives of local youth.”We have to know people’s experiences,” she said.Hansen said youth violence is a concern that should be researched and debated by the City Council. She said that Lynn’s 90,000-plus residents include 26,000 teenagers.”Now we need to work toward a solution,” she said.

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