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Orange County Focus

WESTMINSTER : Students Play Roles of Top City Officials

March 24, 1993|ANDREA HEIMAN

Penny Public, Evelynn Everybody and Granny Smith turned out Tuesday to rail at the City Council.

The council remained calm--except for some giggling.

The giggles came from high school students who played the roles of mayor and council members during a mock City Council meeting.

Though the students' version of the meeting was a bit less formal and a lot shorter than the regular council's bimonthly meetings, the students said they learned from their experience.

"It was fun," said Phuong Khuu, 17, a junior at La Quinta High School. "I hadn't realized how much pressure you're under up there."

The council meeting was part of the city's 14th annual Youth in Government Day. Thirty-eight students from Mater Dei, Westminster, La Quinta and Bolsa Grande high schools spent the day with government employees--from the finance director to the police chief to the mayor--learning firsthand about the City Hall positions.

Amber Smith, a 17-year-old senior from Westminster High, played mayor during the hourlong council meeting, during which mock proposals were debated by the council and the "public."

Smith stuck with the agenda and even turned off the microphone when speakers went over their time limit.

"It was very effective," said Smith, who is a member of the Community Services and Recreation Department's Youth Commission. "It's exciting, and a good educational thing. It helps me determine if I want to pursue something like this. And I got to meet the mayor!"

During the council meeting, the students in the audience smiled as the young council members fielded comments from irate residents, played by city staff members.

Planning and Building Manager Mike Bouvier said he enjoyed the role of angry citizen.

"It's always a pleasure to get a chance to give rather than receive," Bouvier said. "The staff gets into it--we're always on the receiving level for complaints."

Although one young student councilman noted that "all the girls are voting together," the meeting went off without a hitch.

"It's refreshing to get this many students responding," said Councilman Craig Schweisinger. "I was very impressed, they are a nice group of kids."

"It was fun," said John Nguyen, 16, a junior at La Quinta High who sat on the council. "I didn't realize how formal it was. But I can see myself going into politics--I can imagine myself being a president."

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