Crash course in local government

Published 8:58 am Tuesday, April 20, 2010

JACKSON — High school students from Northampton County Schools got a chance to learn about the inter-workings of local government.

Last Thursday, approximately 50 students from Northampton County High Schools-East and West participated in a mock meeting of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners.

For the second year in a row, the event, coordinated in part by the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce, gave the students a crash course in local government via local officials, including Northampton County Commission Chair Fannie Greene, Commissioner Virginia Spruill, Commissioner Robert Carter and County Manager Wayne Jenkins. Other area officials stopped by as well, including Jackson Mayor Jim Gossip and State Representative Michael Wray.

“We want you to take part in this to understand how these individuals operate,” said Marshall Cherry, with the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

From the 50 students five were selected to be commissioners; William Alston was Chair, Kristopher Dickens was Vice Chair, and Patrice Williams, Selina Boyd and Boston Claiboine served as commissioners. Meanwhile, Andre Rowe Jr., Ja’bef Duprey and Adrienne Jackson were chosen to serve as county manager, county attorney and clerk to the board, respectively.

The rest of the students were split into two groups in order to prepare for a mock public hearing where the pros and cons would be presented concerning a merger of the two high schools.

Those favoring for merging the two schools cited the positives including knowing more people, economic reasons and developing their social skills for college.

Those opposing the consolidation referred to the two schools’ rivalry, the academic level of the students and larger class sizes.

In the end, the board voted down a motion to merge the two schools in a 3-2 vote. Instead, they agreed to form a group to study the issue more.

NCHS-West Principal Felicia Wyche noted April is Local Government month and the mock commissioners meeting is a chance for students to learn the ins and outs of local government.

“It’s very important to come and learn about what (local officials) actually do,” she said. “The merging of the two schools is hot topic right now.”

Antoine Jacobs, a senior at NCHS-East, said he enjoyed the meeting, but it did not inspire him to go into politics, rather peaking his interest in being an involved and informed citizen.

“It was fun to see how it’s done,” he said.

Jolesa Deloatch, also a senior at NCHS-East, said she enjoyed watching her peers debate the issue.

“I think each (side) had a good view,” she said. “It makes me more aware that I should be more informed of what my representatives are doing.”

Raikija Allen, a freshman at NCHS-West, said meeting was fun, but did not make her want to politics.

“If you want to be a part of things (you have to participate),” she said.