On November 8, State Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove) welcomed a number of high school students from across the 41st Senate District to his annual Youth Advisory Council, a unique, hands-on opportunity for area students to learn about and experience state government and public policy.
“The high school students attending this Youth Advisory are future leaders with strong opinions, thoughts and ideas. For the second year in a row, I’m impressed by just how thoughtful and informed their voices are when it comes to the issues facing our state,” said Senator Curran. “I’m hopeful that this event serves to motivate and encourage students to continue to be involved, take on leadership roles and be active in their communities.”
Curran hosted his all-day Youth Advisory Council at the Downers Grove Public Library. Participating students are from Lyons Township High School, Downers Grove South High School, Downers Grove North High School, Hinsdale South High School, Chesterton Academy of The Holy Family and Lemont High School.
Senator Curran invited local leaders in the community to speak to the students, including: Alison Howlett Walters, Executive Director at Chicago Laborers District Council, Labor-Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC); State Representative-elect and current DuPage County Board member Amy Grant; and Dr. Darlene J. Ruscitti, Regional Superintendent, DuPage Regional Office of Education.
The guest speakers spoke to students about their careers, advice about leadership and the importance of being involved. Sen. Curran also spoke about his experience as an Assistant State’s Attorney and his time in the Illinois Senate.
Afterwards, students spent time in small groups discussing and debating policy issues important to them and how any new proposal could face challenges or become successful legislation. During these discussions, Curran spent time with each small group, asking students questions about their proposed policy change and how they would advocate for their issue.
“I may not be a politician, but it is good for me to have an awareness of what is going on in politics right now,” said Regina McLain from Chesterton Academy of the Holy Family in Downers Grove.
“It’s just showing me that how I, myself, can have a powerful impact in my community,” said Ugonna Nwakudu from Hinsdale South High School.
“Being involved in the youth council, for instance, really helps people understand how important local government is because ultimately that’s where the changes in our everyday life happen,” said Lars Lonnroth from Lyons Township High School.
“I wanted to do it because I have considered a political science route. I feel like politics is very interesting,” said Brendan Daugherty from Lemont High School. “I kind of wanted to see different perspectives from people who are actually in the business, how they do their job, why they went into it, what is the path they took and different perspectives on other issues.”
Sen. Curran’s Youth Advisory Council is a two-part experience. Students will meet with Sen. Curran again in the spring where they will participate in a mock committee hearing.