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Students learn local government

WINTON – Young people perhaps thinking of a career as a public official can do themselves a favor by first learning the ropes at the local government level.

A foursome of local students took that exact route here Monday morning.

Student Government Association (SGA) leaders from both Hertford County High School and Ridgecroft School accepted invitations to attend Monday’s Hertford County Board of Commissioners meeting. There, the students and their advisors took an active part in the meeting, one that set aside time to feature Hertford County’s involvement in National County Government Week (May 3-9).

Arica Parker and Jaleel Harrell represented Hertford County High School. Parker serves as a Peer Liaison at her school while Harrell is SGA Vice-President. They were accompanied by Jennifer Smyth, SGA Advisor at HCHS.

Representing Ridgecroft School were SGA Vice-President Mary Myers and Secretary Travis Blowe. Ridgecroft SGA Advisor Kellie Lane joined her students at the meeting.

“We issued the invitations to give the SGA representatives at our schools here in Hertford County the opportunity to take part in County Government Week as well as participate in a meeting of the commissioners,” Hertford County’s Assistant County Manager Patricia Weaver said.

Keeping with the theme of this year’s National County Government Week (“Greening Our Future”), the SGA officials, joined by others attending the commissioners meeting, were treated to information regarding the environment.

Sarah Turner, employed by the county’s Land Records Department, used a graphic display to chart the decomposition rates of items discarded in a landfill. Based on three key elements – moisture, sunlight and air – Turner said some items decompose in as little as two weeks while others could take up to two million years.

The students were asked to share what types of “Earth friendly” projects were occurring at their schools. Parker and Harrell said HCHS students and staff were conserving paper, turning off lights not needed and recycling paper, plastic and milk cartons.

Speaking on behalf of Ridgecroft, Myers shared that her school was very conscious of saving energy (cutting off lights and adjusting the thermostat), using biodegradable products and recycling paper/plastic products as well as ink cartridges.

Hertford County Manager Loria Williams praised the students for their poise speaking before an audience. She, along with each of the five commissioners, encouraged the students to remain committed to school government in order to help them prepare to become tomorrow’s public leaders.

The event, as well as the local effort regarding National County Government Week, was spearheaded by Weaver and Gay Sumner, Land Records Supervisor for the county. Others involved in the planning were Turner, Tax Clerks Angela Fitzhugh and Jaime Ambrose, Rose Stephenson with the Code Enforcement Office, EDC Secretary Josephine Green and Administrative Assistants Shelia Matthews (County Manager’s office), Lillian Whitaker (DSS) and Tonya Freeman (Sheriff’s Office).