TUPELO – Blending political promises of making city government more open to the public and showing support for Tupelo public schools, new Mayor Jason Shelton wants to expand a city youth program.
The Mayor’s Youth Council, a group of Tupelo High School students, has existed for years as a volunteer organization. Shelton wants to use it as a mentoring program that introduces more students to local government, while also showcasing quality students in public schools.
Shelton, the former municipal attorney for Plantersville, said he’s tired of seeing that community’s youth council outperform Tupelo in terms of members and activities. Shelton said he’s open to a friendly rivalry among youth councils in the region.
“I don’t mind if you tell Mayor (Gloria) Holland that we’re coming after her,” he said.
Chris Jones, a THS math teacher and sponsor of the Mayor’s Youth Council for two academic years, has started brainstorming with city officials to improve the program. She said potential internship programs in city departments is possible for the group, along with students shadowing the mayor and meeting with City Council members to discuss issues of concern.
“We’re trying to take a fresh approach and get students more involved in city government as far as what the city actually does,” Jones said.
Like previous years, the group of students will likely attend leadership conferences and participate in community projects.