Building tomorrow’s leaders today

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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AHOSKIE – A plan to involve high school-age children in helping to shape Ahoskie’s future has taken it next step forward.

The first nine members of the town’s Youth Advisory Council have been selected and took part in a recent meeting with Ahoskie Mayor Weyling White, Town Councilwoman Jamie Burns, and Town Clerk Jennifer Bracy.

“You represent what we envision as a partnership between town government and the youth of our town,” said White. “You will serve as the collective voice of the young people of our town.”

This past summer, White introduced the idea of forming a Youth Advisory Council. He wanted that group to meet and develop ideas of how to better engage local youngsters in peer-building activities as well as serving as advisors to the Ahoskie Town Council about issues involving young people.

Mayor White said he sees the Youth Council learning how to solve civic challenges

“That’s the first step in becoming a leader,” he said. “We need to build tomorrow’s leaders today.”

White added that the Youth Council members will attend the regular monthly meetings of the Ahoskie Town Council (6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month). They will also meet once per month.

Additionally, the each member of the Youth Council will be assigned to work alongside each of the five members of the Ahoskie Town Council along with the Mayor, Bracy, Town Manager Kerry McDuffie and the local media.

“We want them to become well-versed in each aspect of town government,” White noted.

The first nine members of the Youth Advisory Council are:

Amiya Eure, a freshman at Hertford County Early College. She enjoys sports and plays tennis, track and field, and cheerleading. She is also an active member in her church.

Avah Liverman, a sophomore at Hertford County Early College. She is a member of the Hertford County High School girl’s tennis team and a member of the Senior Beta Club.

Alexis Vann, a freshman at Hertford County Early College. She volunteers at the library, is an active member in the Delta Gems and is an active member of the Girl Scouts. She is an active member in her church.

Jordan Staton, a freshman at the Hertford County Early College. He participates in athletics, SGA, and BETA Club.

Jayla Urquhart, a senior at Hertford County High School. She is an active member of SGA, AIG, BETA Club, SLAM Program, as well as the Yearbook Club and serves in leadership roles.

Kade Slaughter, a freshman at Ridgecroft School. He is an active member on the Student Advisory Council, First Baptist Church’s Youth Group, and Earlys Baptist Church Youth Group.

Morgan Saunders, a junior at Hertford County Early College. She is involved with Teen Court and hopes to play softball in the Spring.

Sarah Howard, a senior at C.S. Brown S.T.E.M. High School. She enjoys sports and plays track, soccer, and basketball. She is an active member of the local 4-H Club and participates in various projects with them. She is also a part of Youth Stepping Forward.

Sophia Howard, a sophomore at Hertford County Early College. She enjoys sports and is involved in volleyball, soccer, and track. She is also a member of Teen Court, JCPC, and the local 4-H Club.

As part of the town’s commitment to its local youth, Ahoskie opened a Youth Center in October, transforming the old Ahoskie High School Band Room on West Main Street into a functional facility where children can safely gather to enjoy various activities.

“As you know there’s been much tragedy in our town involving our youth,” White said at the facility’s grand opening last month. “There’s been much discussion, much collaboration, and a lot of ideas put on the table as to how we can combat that, to prevent further tragedies from happening.”

White said he has been personally affected by tragic events that have taken away people he knew and loved.

“We have to take a stand and make sure that, going forward, no other family has to experience that pain,” he stressed. “That’s the purpose of this Youth Center, a place, a safe haven for our young people to grow, learn, and interact with each other in a positive way.”

He stressed that the need for such a place was rooted deep in tragedy and credited three local women – Shannon Harrell, Taiwanna Saulsbury, and Shannon Vann – for their bold vision to find ways to protect and nurture the dreams of local youth. Those three women each lost a child to gun violence.

“These families have endured emotional pain and suffering. Their losses impacted many lives here in our town and community,” White noted. “Part of their vision, which has become our vision, is youth violence prevention. Our youth are afraid to walk the streets in their own neighborhoods. We’ve got to take our streets back and make them safe again.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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