Weston University program students put their knowledge to the test by conducting a simulated City Commission meeting. It was the final project for the seven-month civics program which provides high school students with a hands-on education in local government.
Each month, the program focuses on a different department or aspect of city services. In addition, students learn about the role of the City Commission which governs Weston. According to Denise Barrett-Miller, Weston’s Director of Communications and Weston University Program coordinator, the City Commission simulation brings everything together as students present and/or defend their side of several real agenda issues, gaining a better understanding of each role of government.
Elected officials and dedicated city staff members guided the students through the mock agenda which included items taken from actual City Commission meetings. For example, the students conducted a quasi-judicial hearing on resolutions to allow a 24-hour tanning salon to operate in Weston Commons and to extend liquor sales from 1am to 3am at a cigar bar in Weston Town Center. Other agenda items included passing resolutions to purchase five EMS Rescue/Transport vehicles and to renew the agreement between the City and the Arts Council of Greater Weston for an additional three years, as well as passing an ordinance to prohibit dance hall, night club and skating rink uses within industrial, office and commercial districts.
Each student was assigned a role to play, ranging from Mayor and Commissioner to Director of Parks and Recreation and Budget Director. Barrett-Miller says the City Commissioners and staff were thoroughly impressed by their student counterparts’ knowledge, interest and desire to role play. She says it is rewarding for the “teachers” to see how much the students absorbed from their lessons.
“By participating in the Weston University program, everyone involved gains such satisfaction and reward by departing our knowledge and passion for government and exposing students to the various career opportunities in public service they might have otherwise overlooked,” states Barrett-Miller.
Weston University is a unique civic education program for Weston students who attend Cypress Bay and Western High School, as well as home schooled students. Applications for the Weston U Class of 2020 will be available at the start of the school year.