Students fill leadership roles

Published 9:24 am Saturday, April 25, 2009

JACKSON — Sides were chosen, opinions voiced and when the vote was taken, it was unanimous: school uniforms were out.

On Thursday, students from Northampton County High School-East (NCHS-East) and Northampton County High School-West (NCHS-West) participated in a mock Board of Commissioners meeting.

The students, along with county and school officials packed the commissioners’ board room to hold the mock meeting coordinated in part with the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce.

The seniors, juniors, sophomores and even freshmen received a crash course in local government with assistance from county officials, including all five county commissioners, Chair Robert Carter, Vice Chair Fannie Greene, Virginia Spruill, James Hester and Chester Deloatch along with County Manager Wayne Jenkins.

Five student commissioners were chosen to run the meeting along with students serving as county manager, county attorney and clerk to the board.

Christian Dunlow (NCHS-West) served as Chair of the board while Andre Rowe Jr. (NCHS-East) was Vice Chair, other commissioners included Quiana Harris (NCHS-East), Euniqua Harris (NCHS-East) and Deana Clayton (NCHS West).

Other students stepping into the role of county officials were Kristopher Dickens (NCHS-East) as County Manager, Dakota Wilson (NCHS-West) as County Attorney and Arthur Jones (NCHS-West) as Clerk to the Board.

The rest of the students were split into two groups to prepare for a public hearing featuring the “hot button” issue: school uniforms.

Several students made arguments to the board in support of uniforms and against.

Greg Allen was for school uniforms, arguing safety concerns in that if the student body was wearing uniforms it would be easier to spot an outsider.

Dani Wilson was against uniforms because she believed it stifled the expression of individuality and hindered education.

“We have students being suspended for a little white in their shoes,” she said. “If the student is suspended it takes away from their education.”

Summer Branch was against uniforms, disputing they do not bring the student body together.

“It shows unity, but is the unity really there,” she questioned.

The “student” board of commissioners then took a vote and unanimously voted against the requirement of school uniforms.

Marshall Cherry, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the event was two years in the making and hopes the mock meeting will continue annually.

Cherry gave the students an overview of the role of the chamber and the importance of a relationship to exist between business and government.

“It’s important the chamber is a part of this because everyone you see is a decision maker,” he said referring to the elected officials in the room.

Northampton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy commended those officials and students who took part in the meeting.

“You very well may sit in some of these seats one day,” he told the students. “Take it all in.”

The students seemingly did “take it all in.” After the mock meeting they spoke to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald about the experience.

William Alston of Gaston noted the environment of the commissioners’ room added to the meeting.

“Actually being in the building and having the debate…it makes me feel important,” said Alston, a NCHS-West student. “I would like to attend a (real) commissioners’ meeting.”

Tiara Daye of Conway admitted she was a little vague on what commissioners did.

“I think it was an excellent learning experience for our school,” said Daye who attends NCHS-East.

Parent Chenetha Herbert of Conway sat in on the mock meeting and said she was impressed with what she saw. Herbert’s daughter, Threann, is a junior at NCHS-East.

“I think it’s wonderful, the kids get to feel like they’re involved in the community,” she said. “Yes, I think they should do it more often.”