Eleven Hilliard students from Bradley, Darby and Davidson high schools are laying the groundwork to form an independent youth council to engage with local leaders.

Their path is somewhat open, said Margaret Lee, 16, the Darby junior who is leading the effort to convene the charter members.

"We want to have an impact in our community on a larger scale," she said.

Lori Lee, Margaret Lee's mother, is the interim adviser for the group.

"The council is meant to provide an opportunity for students to engage in their local government," Lori Lee said. "The kids also want a chance to find ways to have an impact on their community and discover what they can do to make a difference".

The students plan to begin their civic activity Oct. 20 at the Old Hilliard Halloween Haunt, an annual holiday event at which Old Hilliard merchants pass out candy to costumed children. The event is from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Margaret Lee told Hilliard City Council members about the students' initiative during council's Aug. 27 meeting and sought advice about how to move forward.

"Any time we can get youth involved in our community, it's a good thing," said council President Albert Iosue.

Six students gathered for an organizational meeting Aug. 28 at the Joint Safety Services Building, 5181 Northwest Parkway.

One was Jake Garner, 16, a sophomore at Davidson.

Garner said he joined the youth council "because I want to set a good example for children" and "make a difference in my community."

He said Lee's idea immediately impressed him.

"She has a definitive plan for the council, and this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Garner said.

That plan, Margaret Lee said, is to reach out to the community, helping staff such events as holiday-related programs of the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department, Destination Hilliard events or next year's Old Hilliardfest Art & Street Fair. The students also have contacted the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.

The other four students who attended the first meeting were Darby sophomore Jake Swartzmiller, Darby freshmen Jonah Halbisen and Jake Mamula and Davidson sophomore Carter Gaines.

Other charter members are Darby freshman Sophia Fratturelli, Darby sophomore Aisha Peerbhoy, Darby sophomore Mackenzie Robertson, Darby senior Emily Schneck and Bradley freshman Brett Warner.

Margaret Lee said the youth council would seek more membership applications in the spring, when it also will elect officers.

The youth council would be autonomous from the city and will meet at the Joint Safety Services Building, a neutral site for the students of all three high schools, said Lee, who is also a member of Darby's student council.

The council plans to meet twice a month for now, Margaret Lee said.

Councilman Les Carrier attended the students' organizational meeting.

"This is the best of Hilliard here – young people coming out who want to make a difference," Carrier said.

Margaret Lee said the students also would reach out to Destination Hilliard, the local destination-marketing organization with the mission of promoting Hilliard, and its new executive director, Tim Kauffman.

"Any time there is an opportunity to work with students in our community, I want to do that, (and) there is a role for young people in Destination Hilliard," Kauffman said.

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