April 13, 2023

Landstown Middle Schoolers Get Up-Close View of Local Government

Students hold mock City Council meeting to get firsthand experience as part of SOL coursework.
Students Seated Council Dais

With the bang of a gavel, the mayor called City Council to order where they listened to public comment, took a vote on the issue of the day and received answers to their questions from City staff. But this was no ordinary City Council meeting.

Student Raising His Hand to Speak

About 300 students from Landstown Middle School took a field trip to City Hall on March 30 and April 7 where they had an opportunity to hold a mock City Council meeting. The visit was part of their local government standard of learning (SOL) coursework.

Eleven students from each group were ceremonially sworn in and sat as councilmembers while their classmates delivered their comments in support of or against issues they chose to place on their meeting agendas.

Students were given the same briefing materials that were made available to their City Council counterparts and residents to help craft comments and to determine their votes.

Councilmembers Jennifer Rouse and Michael Berlucchi with Students

On hand to answer questions about what it means to be an elected official and public servant were Councilmembers Michael Berlucchi - District 3 and Jennifer Rouse - District 10, along with City Manager Patrick Duhaney.

“This is the first time we’ve ever had Virginia Beach City Public Schools students come in and get this kind of hands-on, interactive experience with local government,” said Berlucchi. “These students represent the next generation of our community and it’s my sincere hope that this visit inspires them to consider the opportunities that working for or representing our city can offer.”

While the meeting was not one that had any official authority, the issues students selected were ones that have been considered or discussed by our City Council: a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed concepts that were submitted for Rudee Loop and an ordinance to execute a sponsorship agreement for Something In The Water.

Student Speaking to Council Dais

The City offers a variety of ways for Virginia Beach’s younger residents to engage with their local government through the Youth Opportunities Office, matching individuals to programs and services that they have expressed an interest in learning more about.

For example, the Mayor’s Youth Leaders in Action (MYLA) is a youth-led program made up of students in grades six through 12 that exists to be a positive force in the community through leadership, service, education and representation. Applications for MYLA open in May and close in July. Visit virginiabeach.gov/MYLA for more information!

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