Thanks to past years’ success, Mayor Janice S. Mironov and the East Windsor Township Council have once again announced the opportunity for high school students to participate in the township’s government.
East Windsor Township is now accepting applications for student representatives to join a number of boards and commissions in a non-voting, but active, capacity.
“I think the amount of participation each year shows how successful the program is,” said Councilman Marc Lippman during last week’s township council meeting. “When we started this program I don’t think we realized how successful it is, and I think that it’s great because the students really get into it and they see how government works.”
Students who apply may choose from a myriad of township boards and commissions, including the Commission on Aging, Clean Communities Committee, Economic Development Commission, Environmental Commission, Health Advisory Committee and Recreation Commission, and East Windsor Municipal Alliance for the Prevention of Substance Abuse.
These committees and boards generally meet on a monthly basis.
Mironov said in a press release student participation injects a fresh outlook into the governmental process. She said the program has mutual benefits, hopefully stimulating younger citizens to have a greater interest in and understanding of the role of local government.
“I also think besides a great deal for the students, it’s a great deal for the township as well to get some very energetic, smart people involved in the township governing and the board,” said Councilman Peter V. Yeager during the council meeting. “So, that’s certainly a benefit for them, but definitely a benefit for us as well.”
Past student representatives include Hightstown High School senior Raunaq Singh. In a personal essay for the Wharton School, Singh said he was interested in joining the East Windsor Economic Development Committee during his sophomore year in January 2011 because it sounded intriguing, and he wanted to better understand economic development on the municipal government level.
With hopes of pursuing technology and finance in college, Singh applied for the Economic Development Committee, and after he was accepted, he set his sights on improving the living standard for the township’s residents.
Singh said during his time on the committee, he sat at a roundtable with 13 other board members for a few hours each month discussing businesses and brainstorming ways to improve the local economic climate.
One initiative Singh undertook during his time as a student representative included developing a map to be sent to East Windsor residents to increase awareness of local retail. Stores paid to include their business information on the map. Singh said he shaped the aesthetics and mechanics of the map so that viewers could gather information effectively.
He said he learned a number of valuable lessons from his student representative experience.
“If you don’t think something is the best it can be, speak your mind because it will only help move the project forward,” Singh said in his essay. “I think many teens that enter a new organization — whether it is a job or a high school club — are afraid to speak up to the leaders for fear of being shut down. I’ve learned that my opinion matters and can have a lasting impact on the direction an issue takes.”
High school students who wish to be considered as a student representative should submit a letter indicating their area of interest and reasons or related background to Mayor Janice Mironov and Members of the Township Council, East Windsor Municipal Building, 16 Lanning Boulevard, East Windsor, New Jersey 08520.