Youth seeks out civic opportunities and service

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Cheryl Gunter has a little advice for parents of high school students who are planning to attend college. She says, “My son Christopher has finished submitting his college applications and I have discovered why it’s recommended for juniors to keep very busy over the summer before they begin their senior year. The activities they choose play a major part in the college application process.”

Everyone’s interests are different, so high school sophomores and juniors may want to start thinking about their areas of interest and how they can gain experience in those areas before their senior year.

Christopher Gunter, a senior at the Santa Rosa Academy charter school in Menifee, enjoyed two trips to the California State Capital this past year. According to Cheryl, the first one was a bit of a surprise.

After his teachers unanimously appointed Christopher to represent the students of Santa Rosa Academy, Christopher and another student joined the school’s executive director and a teacher to speak with legislators in Sacramento about charter school issues.

The students engaged in a three-hour youth symposium sponsored by the California Charter Schools Association for the annual Advocacy Day on May 5, 2015. The group also got the opportunity to meet with Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez.

In June, Christopher was back in Sacramento with the American Legion “Boys State” program, an opportunity offered to high school juniors. In April, Christopher had interviewed with American Legion representatives and was chosen to attend the program, held at Cal State Sacramento.

Cheryl explains, “The Boys State program teaches the duties, rights and responsibilities of American citizenship. By providing a hands-on course in civics, these young men are encouraged to develop a deeper interest in, and study of, problems of government beyond what our youth receive in high schools today.”

During the week-long program, students develop a fully functional government, voting for a variety of government positions at the city, county and state level.

Cheryl adds, “From this practical school of government, the delegates learn the part each one can play under our system of government – that each can run for office, can vote for the candidate of his choice, and can have a voice and be part of shaping the policies of his government.” Christopher was among the delegates who met with Senator Jeff Stone.

Inspired by these experiences, was looking for ways to serve his community as he started his senior year at Santa Rosa Academy. He applied for a position on the City of Menifee Youth Advisory Committee.

Cheryl says, “After completing an extensive application process that included writing an essay and answering questions about his community service experiences, the three-hour interview was a great opportunity to showcase what activities Christopher had participated in this past summer.” He was sworn into office on September 16 for a one-year term commitment.

According to Cheryl, the purpose of the Youth Advisory Committee is to promote public service and community involvement with, for and by youth. The committee reviews proposals for programs, projects and facilities as they pertain to youth. It also promotes youth involvement in community events, programs and volunteer projects through public education, schools and community organizations, and it acts in an advisory capacity for the City Council in all other policy matters pertaining to youth.

Christopher runs a small web design business he started in his junior year and has turned in college applications to the University of San Diego, Santa Clara University and Purdue University.

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