Linden Teens Discuss the Future
Twenty-two students from Marengo Academy and Linden High School got together to brainstorm about “Finding the Good Life in Linden” in a May 15 forum led by the David Mathews Center for Civic Life.
The forum, sponsored by the Marengo County Economic Development Authority and the Extension Office, focused on how young people can make a difference by investing in their community.
Linden High cheerleader and student council member Adriaunna Alston said the forum was important because it “opened our minds for different ideas that could better our community.”
Haley Mitchell of Marengo Academy added, “It’s good to get the two schools together. We never do this.”
Representing the David Mathews Center, headquartered in Montevallo, were Chris McCauley, executive director, Robert Turner, assistant program director, and intern Ann Banks Black.
Cristiana Shipma, living and working in Linden this summer as part of the Auburn University Living Democracy program, organized the event held at the Marengo County Business Development Center. Blake Evans, 2012 Living Democracy student, joined the conversation.
To start the morning session, McCauley lead the students through three approaches and examples of different projects that could improve life in Linden, focusing on what the students wanted for their town.
McCauley asked the students about what good citizens do and how they could be better citizens and then focused on how students could be active participants in making life better in Linden.
What is good about life in Linden? The teens at the forum pointed to the small-town feel, good sports teams, active churches and events such as the Chilly Fest held each winter. They identified the downtown gazebo and Scott Park as great assets for the town.
When asked what students would like to see in Linden, teens suggested a bowling alley or arts venue among other ideas.
McCauley asked students for their ideas on what they would do at the former National Guard armory being converted to a Development Center. Ideas ranged from a tutoring center to gym space for school teams to scrimmage.
When asked what was of common importance to both high schools, students agreed that sports and the need for a youth center were the most discussed ideas at the forum.
The conversation then moved on to talk of projects that could realistically be tackled to improve Linden. Students discussed hosting a color run and a sports camp. Linden High School students suggested planting trees to beautify their campus while Marengo Academy students voiced hopes of fixing their parking lot and planting flowers.
McCauley encouraged the students to take their ideas to the next level and work together with Shipma to bring their dreams for Linden to fruition.
The 2014 Living Democracy student said she hopes to help students build on their ideas. She concluded the forum with a game where students tossed a ball of yarn to each other, forming a web. Shipma said that each community is like a web, with each citizen connected and important to forming a community.
Shipma helped organize the event with the assistance of Mitzi Gates of Linden High School and Leigh Griffith of Marengo Academy. Both educators agreed the forum was important for local high school students.