On September 19th, a group of dynamic scholars from Foundation Academy Collegiate had the opportunity to share their perspectives with the Trenton City Council regarding what Trenton needs. Participating students included Hobbes Chukumba, Jedidah Worrell, Brianna Telles, Aundrea Grizzle, FA Students, and members of the National Honor Society. Throughout their presentation, the students touched on various topics, including an increased focus on education, expanded community activities, and keeping neighborhoods clean. Scholars also provided the council with concrete, actionable suggestions to implement these ideas. An inspiring display of commitment and courage, these scholars exemplify what it means to use your voice for the betterment of your community.

Trenton Daily recently had the opportunity to speak with these young scholars about their time in front of the council, what inspired them to take this stand, and what words of encouragement they would have for fellow students in our community. When asked what inspired them to take this leap of faith and present in front of the council, Aundrea G. noted, “I wanted to get my voice out there for those who do not have a voice or don’t want to let it be heard. Some people have a lot to say but can’t find the voice to say it, and I love being someone who will say it for them if they don’t say it for themselves.”

Jedidah W. echoed this sentiment: “Many people who live in Trenton have lived here almost their whole lives if not their whole lives. I feel many people have issues living in Trenton but don’t know how to express those things to improve things. I feel like the City Council meeting was a great way to get our ideals out on the floor and have them listen to the people to improve the city.”

Reflecting on some of the topics discussed at the Council meeting, Hobbes C. shared, “We started talking about education in Trenton and places where we think it could improve, as well as topics like recreation and the environment we see around us. I think, at least for myself, much of the inspiration came from my own experiences. We’ve all lived in Trenton for a while and experienced many of the hardships we brought up. For example, in terms of the environment, we see it all around us – there’s litter on the ground, things are gunking up the gutters, so we just talked about what we’ve seen.”

Chiming in, Brianna T. stated, “One of the most motivating factors for me was also the education system. We talked a lot about STEM involvement and college and career readiness. I have big aspirations, and as somebody with those aspirations, having that college and career readiness program related to that is very important and a major motivating factor.”

When asked what inspiration these scholars would have for other students in Trenton who might wish to get involved, Aundrea said, “I would tell them to start at home. Of course, you can work your way up in your school, join clubs, talk to staff members, etc. But the more you get comfortable using your voice in your home, the more comfortable you’ll be using your voice outside the home. And then you start making your way around to clubs like NHS and our newsletter club – all those things we incorporate with other sources, we incorporate with parents, teachers, staff members, and we have our voices and the opinions we have heard.”

Jedidah followed this up: “I believe that starting at home is an important part, but also: start now. Because to wait, to feel like it’s too late, or be nihilistic about living here to the point where they don’t want to use their voice or you don’t want to seek that change. And so my piece of advice for fellow students is, if you know something needs to change, gather a group of friends and start doing the legwork for your future.”

Reflecting on what sorts of changes these students wish to see as a result of their presentation, Hobbes said, “I’m hoping we do see the changes that we brought up in the presentation, but I also hope that we can see more political engagement from fellow high school students like us because we live in the city and it should be a part of our community. As a high school student, I want to be closer to the Trenton community. I feel the best way to do that is through politics, through improving my community by talking to city council, so I’m hoping more high school students can feel that same bond and sense of initiative and leadership.”

When asked if they had any final words of encouragement or wisdom, Aundrea stated, “I would say that no idea is a bad idea with what you want improvements on in your community. All voices matter, and all needs matter.”

Hobbes followed up, noting, “I think another good value to go by is collaboration and teamwork – without this awesome team I have here, without the help of NHS and the help of our advisor. Honestly, this would have been a much harder feat.”

Closing the conversation, Jedidah stated, “Don’t be afraid to make the first move. Student-run organizations seldom go to the City Council about issues in Trenton or how they can improve. So there’s always an opportunity to make that first move and take that first step to improve things. Don’t be afraid of rejection or people telling you your idea is horrible or that you can’t do it. If you have a drive, you can do it.”

These students are an inspiration and a shining example of what can be achieved when you use your voice for good. As Trenton continues to march forward toward the future, we can feel confident passing the torch to such a committed and dynamic generation of rising leaders. The years to come are looking bright, not just for these students but for the Trenton community at large, and we cannot wait to see how these remarkable young scholars go on to transform lives near and far.


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