Teen serves on New Stanton Borough Council
As a junior councilwoman for New Stanton Borough, Hempfield High School senior Carolyn Loucks is learning about local government in her hometown.
“I was surprised that one borough would have so many issues ... and spend so much time on one topic, like how they want to redo things at the park,” said Loucks, 18, who has attended about three meetings so far.
“They talk about the new (Pennsylvania Turnpike) interchange a lot, how traffic would be during construction, and they listen to what local business managers have to say about the project,” she said.
“Also, they keep really good track of their money,” Loucks said.
She reported that council members have a detailed agenda and they stick to it.
This is the fourth year that the borough has welcomed a junior council member, said assistant secretary Anita Hoffman.
“We go to the school to ask for a student council person,” Hoffman said. “Usually it's for the school year and it is someone interested in local government, to see if this is something they would want to be involved with in the future.”
Hoffman recognizes that it is sometimes difficult for the student representative to get involved with a borough committee because of after-school activities.
Borough meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month.
“I was asked to join a committee, but I haven't committed because of my schedule,” Loucks said.
A full schedule is helping her to learn to manage her time and money.
She works at Cracker Barrel and Bruster's Real Ice Cream some evenings and on Sundays, swims Monday through Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the YMCA in Greensburg and competes with its Stingrays swim team on Saturdays.
Hempfield Area High School teacher Ken Stough said that New Stanton is the only municipality to request a volunteer from his Project 18 government class.
“Our students become involved in their local governments in many ways,” Stough said. “They are required to contribute 10 hours of political and 10 hours of community service each year.
“Project 18 began during the 1974-75 school year and has been making an impact in local government since that time.
“Currently, two of our township supervisors, our county prothonotary, Senator Kim Ward's chief assistant, and the political science professor at UPG (the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg) are all Project 18 alumni, to name a few,” he said.
“Project 18 provides an awesome opportunity for students to become exceptional citizens,” Stough added. “Even if they are not interested in politics, they will go on to be educated voters and active participants who understand the rights and responsibilities within their community.”
That tradition continues with the newest addition to New Stanton Borough Council.
“From my observation, Carolyn is a very bright, personable, engaging and outgoing person who is well suited to political action and community service,” Stough said.
Of all the political figures that have come to speak to these students, Loucks said the one who impressed her the most was U.S. Rep Tim Murphy, an Upper St. Clair Republican who represents the 18th Congressional District, which is comprised of parts of Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
“The speakers are great,” said Loucks, who voted this fall for the first time. “I have to say Congressman Tim Murphy was my favorite. He got my vote.”
Rose Domenick is a freelance writer.