Eighth-grade students from the Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS) stand with the Summit Common Council and Mayor Nora Radest in Council Chambers. At the most recent Council meeting, three teams of middle schoolers presented their Public Policy Forum projects as part of an initiative at LCJSMS that annually sees students research and create presentations on issues they would like the City to address.
Olivia Cui, Isabella Diaz, and Molly Rowe-Smith advocated for Meatless Mondays within the school system, presenting health hazards associated with red meat and suggested more white meat, beans, and vegetables on the menu, proposing the substitution of their cafeteria’s sandwich bar with a salad bar on Mondays to provide healthier choices and save the school system money as well.
Ella Callahan, Siena Kessler, and Kate Sheiman discussed the risks of vaping, a problem within the middle and high schools, suggesting the City do more to alert students to the hazard. Admitting that a ban would be difficult since vaping is legal, they proposed ways to limit usage by young people. Their suggestions included partnering with the county health department to create an education campaign, posters, bringing a prevention specialist to the elementary schools, and having speakers at school assemblies funded by the PTO. The also addressed the need to educate parents on how to identify vaping equipment, which can be easily camouflaged.
Dante Donaldson and Natalie Jorek promoted the need for more public water fountains, particularly those that allow a reusable water bottle to be refilled, like those heavily used within the schools. This would eliminate plastic litter and encourage better health, they said. The team called for fountains to be installed in high-foot-traffic areas like playing fields and the train station. Because a full implementation of seven fountains could cost as much as $90,000, they suggested pursuing grants.
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