GONZALES — As the school year is drawing to a close, the Gonzales Youth Council is ushering out its graduating Youth Commissioners and welcoming in new members.

“It’s been a great evolution to watch them grow into their policies, into their discussion,” City Manager Rene Mendez said. “We don’t take the input lightly. There’s a lot of great thought that goes into it, a lot of great questioning when youth come forward and talk about how they perceive the world.”

Gonzales Unified School District Superintendent Yvette Irving felt the 2018-19 Youth Council was a good example of the type of students the city has. According to Irving, the process to select the incoming Youth Commissioners was aided by current Youth Commissioners Cindy Aguilar and Nayeli Gomez.

“We’re looking forward to creating a greater voice and a greater connection directly to the high school,” Irving said.

“That way the example that is given at the city level starts to permeate back to student governance at our high school campuses,” Irving added.

Aguilar, a graduating senior, has served on the Youth Council for four years as the group was developing. She has been involved in every project the council has worked on or created. Aguilar had two experiences that stood out to her during her time on the Youth Council. One took place following the Presidential Election, when immigration was a heavy topic. Aguilar had the chance to interpret during the community meetings.

Aguilar’s other highlight was the strategic planning and team building with the Public Works Department. Aguilar will be attending the University of California, Berkeley.

Gomez is also graduating this year and began her Youth Council journey last year.

“I didn’t know that transitioning from a youth council member to a Youth Commissioner would open so many opportunities to connect to adult allies,” Gomez said. “Whenever I’m asked about the Youth Council, that is the first that comes to mind because I genuinely am really thankful for all the adult ally connections that I have made.”

Gomez will be pursuing a higher education at the University of California, Davis.

The Youth Council is advised by several individuals, including Mendez, Michelle Slade and Harold Wolgamott. The Youth Council consists of about 15 members, with eight members graduating this year.

The new school year will feature a change in the number of Youth Commissioners; there will be three. The new Youth Commissioners are Amy Perez, Isabel Mendoza and Madisyn Schweitzer.

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