Taylorsville Youth Council members get sworn in and immediately spring into actionNov 11, 2021 10:52AM ● By Carl Fauver
Youth Council members Brandon Sorensen, Dillon Nguyen, Maryn Seaman, Jenna Marchant and Morgan Thompson do some volunteer yardwork at the Taylorsville Bennion Heritage Center. (Susan Yadeskie)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Like so many other things, COVID-19 took a bite out of the Taylorsville Youth Council last year, reducing their membership and slate of activities. But the 15 members of this year’s Youth Council and their adviser, Taylorsville City Council Coordinator Kris Heineman, are hoping for a return to normal during this 2021–2022 school year.
“These students really are the cream of the crop,” Heineman said. “I love working with them. They do so much for the community. I think this year will be a lot better than last year.
According to the longtime adviser, this year’s Taylorsville Youth Council is the first-ever to include more males than females, by the narrowest 8–7 margin. The group is nearly equally divided among high school grades, with five sophomores, six juniors and four seniors. Junior Chayson Gale attends Murray High School, while all of the other 14 are Taylorsville High School students.
During these pandemic times, it was an unusually large crowd who packed into the Oct. 6 Taylorsville City Council meeting, where the 15 Youth Council members were sworn into their positions. But once that ceremony was completed, early in the meeting, the room quickly resumed its crickets-chirping headcount, as proud parents and their cameras accompanied the students outside for photo ops.
“I enjoy youth council because we are proactive; we want to make a change in the world,” said the group’s chairman, senior Brandon Sorensen. “We strive to make a difference in our community. And we want to show people, even though we are younger, we can be a productive part of society.”
Heineman describes Brandon as “our biggest go-getter.” He’s also one of the council’s two student ambassadors, along with youth council mayor Emma Powers, another Taylorsville High senior.
“I’m not a Taylorsville resident; I live in Kearns, but I have always attended Taylorsville schools,” Emma said. “I joined the youth council [like Brandon, two years ago, as a sophomore] because I wanted to be more involved in the Taylorsville community. And I applied to be a youth ambassador because the [required] community service project sounded like fun.”
The Taylorsville City Council funds $750 college scholarships for each of its youth ambassadors, provided they fulfill all their duties and plan, coordinate and carry out a service project. Emma plans to complete a community clothing donation drive, while Brandon is coordinating with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive.
“We’ll actually have two blood drive on two different days, in two locations,” Brandon said. “I’ve already found enough interest among Taylorsville High School students to have one donation day there. We’re still working to determine the date and location for the second blood drive day for the public.”
As for Emma’s clothing drive, she’s now putting together advertising fliers about the event. She hopes to gather at least 60 pounds of gently worn pants, shirts, coats and other clothing articles.
“Our collection date is Dec. 11,” she said. “So right now, we’re working to get the word out.”
Like most Taylorsville Youth Council members, Brandon and Emma are active in a variety of extracurricular activities at their school. For starters, they’ll each be busy this month with the Taylorsville High School production of “White Christmas.” Emma will play her alto saxophone in the orchestra pit, while Brandon will play Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby’s lead role in the 1954 film).
The first major activities for the entire Taylorsville Youth Council will come during the holidays. On Dec. 4, members will assist with the annual “Saturday with Santa” event at the Taylorsville Bennion Heritage Center. And later that month, council members will provide a sub for Santa holiday for a needy Taylorsville family.
“We are really excited about this group of youth council members,” Mayor Kristie Overson said of the 15 high schoolers. “The youth are an important part of the makeup of Taylorsville. This is a great opportunity to introduce them to government. Maybe someday they will become involved in city government.”
Before any of that happens, the teens and Heineman are simply hoping ongoing COVID-19 challenges won’t force them to cancel as many of their normal youth council activities as they did a year ago.