Weston Encourages Student Participation in Local Government

It’s back to school season and the City of Weston is gearing up for another year of civic education. It will soon begin its “I Led the Pledge” program and welcome the Weston University Program Class of 2020.

“It’s never too early to introduce children to local government and the role that local government plays in their daily lives,” explains Weston Communications Director Denise Barrett-Miller. “Engaging students in local government and civic education has become a long-standing tradition for the City of Weston.”

All elementary schools (public, private and parochial) in the City of Weston are invited to participate in the “I Led the Pledge” program, which allows students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of a City Commission meeting. 

It’s up to the school to decide which students have the honor. In the past, the City has welcomed student council representatives, students of the month, contest winners, safety patrol officers, or any group the school wants to highlight. 

Meryl Jefferson’s fourth grade class from Manatee Bay Elementary is a long-standing participant. Following a lesson on the U.S. Constitutional Convention, the students come dressed in period costume to recite the Pledge. Barrett-Miller says the audience delights in seeing the children perform, adding that the entire “I Led the Pledge” program is something City officials look forward to each month. “We love having the kids come to the Commission meetings.” 

To commemorate their experience, students receive a Weston recycling tote with an “I Led the Pledge” t-shirt along with a special desk flag set with the U.S. flag and Weston flag, as well as literature about the City. 

The “I Led the Pledge” program is not the only way Weston welcomes student participation in local government. The Weston University program provides select high school students with a comprehensive look into how our local government operates. While the program has been around for over 20 years, Barrett-Miller says each year they bring a little more technology into the class with some online polling applications and things like that.

This year, the City of Weston will start promoting Census 2020 in the schools and community. “It is so important that all children be counted,” expresses Barrett-Miller. “It turns out the greatest undercount is children under the age of five. An estimated five percent of kids under five weren’t counted in the 2010 Census, which is about one million children and babies. That means programs such as the National School Lunch Program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) miss out on funding.”