BROCKWAY — Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School students Jordan Faith and Angelo Inzana have a unique opportunity – the privilege of representing their school at Brockway Borough Council meetings.
Since 2000, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs Junior Borough Council Person Program allows high school students to get involved in their local government by becoming junior members of their borough councils.
Last year the connection between the high school and the borough council seemed like it was about to slip. A change in high school leadership and the graduation of both previous council representatives meant that Brockway Borough Council would be without any representation.
Inzana, already a student representative on the school board, agreed to help out with then-senior Hannah Stephens. Inzana did not have to deliberate when it came to returning in the 2017-2018 school year.
“I really enjoyed the meetings last year,” he said. “I wanted to stay involved in this program as long as I could, so I decided to come back this year.”
Since Inzana is a student representative on both the school board and the borough council, he had the opportunity to compare the two. He finds many similarities.
“The school board has to focus on making our schools better,” he said. “The borough council does that on a bigger scale. It tries to make our community better. Brockway is unique. Everyone knows their neighbors and we benefit from that as a community. I like being a part of my community.”
A sense of community is what brought Faith to the borough council. She plays sports for Brockway and sings the National Anthem at Brockway sporting events. She has also had the honor of singing at the PIAA State Basketball Tournament.
“I love my community and want to see how the government is run at this level,” she said. “I don’t know a lot about how the borough council makes decisions. I can’t wait to learn.”
Learning is something that Faith and Inzana do well. Both have targeted career fields that will require more post-secondary education.
“I’m going to be a dentist,” Inzana said. “I wanted a career where I got to be around people, but also help people. I think I can do both as a dentist. I’m interested in going to the University of Pittsburgh, but when I attended RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), I saw Westminster College and liked that. I will be checking out some colleges this year.”
“In Mrs. (Jonell) Volpe’s bio class, I learned about genetics and became fascinated,” Faith said. “In learning what I could, I found that there are jobs like genetic counselor and medical geneticist. I could really help people in that field. It’s a lot of schooling, but I’m not worried.”
Inzana continues in his position from last year, but Faith was sworn in during the council’s Oct. 5 meeting.
With Faith and Inzana on council, Brockway Borough Councilman Mike Martino, who acts as the liaison with the school, is excited to see the program continue.
“I feel it is important for students to recognize how important it is to be involved in your community,” Martino said. “Many who have participated over the last several years never realized how involved people around them are. Our past representatives have been able to bring their own insight into how the school plays an important part in the development of our students. Also, they have recognized how the school is only one aspect of a successful community. Through student representative contributions, hundreds of dollars and countless hours of volunteer time have helped shape many aspects of Brockway.”
Moving forward, Martino wants to involve the student representatives in more discussions about the community. Faith and Inzana have already given reports about school events, but can also give input on youth events.
“I would like to see the position expand to more student awareness of the challenges that exist in our everyday lives,” Martino said. “With such a tremendous dependency on social media for up-to-date information, having access to young men and women in our community can help to build a bridge between many of those who are not directly involved in such a ‘what’s happening now’ society.
“Also, I would hope the position would help bring awareness to those who serve on council. Often, we as council members can become disconnected to the youth of our community. Maybe an opportunity to create a link to the activities happening in our schools through our representatives could help us connect to the students.”