Changes made to community youth commission

October 28, 2009 — by Lauren Kuan

For years, many people had not even heard of the city of Saratoga’s Youth Commission, but members hope to generate a lot more publicity this year.

The number of students in the commission has reached an all-time high of 18. Recreation supervisor Adam Henig said this record is a result of the wide variety of talent city council members saw during interviews.

“There were so many qualified applicants who gave fantastic interviews that the City Council had trouble saying no to them,” said Henig. “Truth be told, they would have liked to expand it to 25 students if they could.”

A whopping 11 Saratoga High students are included in the group along with students from Lynbrook, Castilleja, Westmont, St. Francis, Bellarmine, Redwood and Miller. Seniors Natalie Tkalcevic, Tara Fatemi and Elena Rees; juniors Kevin Mu, Ramiz Sheikh, Aditya Dev and Lauren Kuan; sophomore Vishal Goel and freshman Priyanka Nookla, Kaitlin Finch and Natasha Morgan-Witts are all members.

“I’m really glad that I am part of the commission and I’m looking forward to organizing the concerts and film festivals, working on the website and rebuilding the music scene around Saratoga,” said Sheikh, a new commissioner.

This year, the Youth Commission is looking to help out more with the community not only through creating events but also through service, for instance, donating food to local shelters.

“The commission is now focusing less on event organizing and more on community service projects and issues such as possibly starting a blog and connecting with Saratoga-based organizations,” said Henig.

Henig said one of the main goals the commission set during the annual training is to establish more of an identity within the community, notably among their peers. To do so, the commissioners have created a subcommittee that mainly focuses on promoting the Youth Commission through selling shirts. On Oct. 1, a commission recognition event was held where the newly instated commissioners took an oath during a city council meeting at the Civic Center.

“The commission recognition event was well planned and it was nice that the Saratoga city welcomed us into the commission,” said Goel. “The oath felt very official and it was an honor to take it in front of the Saratoga City Council. Overall, I’m really pumped up to improve our community.”

This year, the commission has also moved their meeting location from the Warner Hutton House to the Saratoga Community Center.

“I’d like to see the Youth Commission have more of an impact among its peers and the
greater community,” said Henig. “The commission has the propensity to play a pivotal role in promoting community service to the youth and teens of Saratoga. Hopefully, down the line teens will see the ‘fun’ and ‘feel good’ aspects of helping others not solely because volunteering fulfills a school requirement.”