About two months ago, LEAD began the process of electing the 2019-20 Youth Policy Council (YPC), a body of six-to-10 students tasked to represent the special interests of the entire LEAD student body. As members of the YPC, students are placed on a fast-track of intensive leadership training as they take ownership of the YPC program and set the tone, present solutions to pressing campus issues and make recommendations for future policy changes, advocate for their peers and participate in the hiring process for all potential LEAD staffers.

In order to qualify as a YPC candidate, students needed to obtain two recommendations from a staff member and a fellow student, attend several informational sessions, debate the issues, campaign to their peers and hold a responsibly, respectable reputation on the LEAD campus. 

About 20 young candidates raised their hand to join the council. After a few weeks of campaigning, debates and an election, only seven students were chosen to lead. Meet your YPC:

“My hope is that they set a new standard for LEAD, that we redefine what leadership development looks at LEAD and they continue to be the amazing young people that they are,” said Bilal Walker, OYN Program Manager. “They all have their own assets, and I’m excited to see how they collaborate and use their gifts to change their community.”

Kenneth Lassister

Why did you want to join the Youth Policy Council?

I wanted to make a change in a lot of stuff. I started with creating the game room, and I was like, ‘I need to change some of these policies too.’

How did you feel when you heard you were elected?

It made me feel happy and nervous at the same time because I felt the pressure. But also, I felt happy that I got elected. I wasn’t expecting it. 

Why do you think your peers wanted you to represent them on the YPC?

Because of the professionalism I put forth. I already sent a lot of emails to Mr. C about the game room, so I already know what it takes to get the ball rolling and get things done.

What did you think of the YPC process – campaigning, debates and election?

To be honest, I was nervous. I thought I wasn’t going to get elected. 

What is one of your main goals, now that you’re on the council?

I want to get better lunches in here. That’s why half of [students] go out to eat.

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Dominick Baskin

Why did you want to join the Youth Policy Council?

I feel like everybody that was running was trying to sugarcoat stuff, and I don’t like that. During the campaign, they were straight capping – the staff too. If they want a rule, they’ll sugarcoat it and go all the way around and not focus on the main point that we need to be making. That sugarcoat stuff – I don’t do that. 

How did you feel when you heard you were elected?

I was chilling because I knew I was going to get elected. I’m not even going to lie. I got a good relationship with the people at 201 and I feel like they really trust me.

Why do you think your peers wanted you to represent them on the YPC?

I’m too real. 

What did you think of the YPC process – campaigning, debates and election?

I felt it was good. Everybody got to establish what they want to change and their point of view. 

What is one of your main goals, now that you’re on the council?

I want a team and extracurriculars. Instead of everybody going to play for other schools, they can come play for us too.

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Shanelle Gordon

Why did you want to join the Youth Policy Council?

Because I’m a positive role model and I knew that I could make a lot of changes. 

How did you feel when you heard you were elected?

I felt nervous because that’s a lot of responsibility. You’re basically taking care of your community, so you’ve got to do it right. 

Why do you think your peers wanted you to represent them on the YPC?

Because I’m a role model. I show those kind of features of a good role model.

What did you think of the YPC process – campaigning, debates and election?

At first, I was a little confused because I thought it was going to be one person. But then I realized it was a whole team. 

What is one of your main goals, now that you’re on the council?

To get a vending machine and a gym and more extracurricular activities.

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Ibn Sharif

Why did you want to join the Youth Policy Council?

I was encouraged by staff and friends because I have a lot of stuff to say. It’s just the way I am. I have a platform and I use it to help the kids that I’m with. That’s something I wanted to do. 

How did you feel when you heard you were elected?

It felt good. I usually don’t do this, so for people to see me as fit to lead – it’s empowering. 

Why do you think your peers wanted you to represent them on the YPC?

I’m cool, but I’m real. I really have a lot of things I plan on doing. I’m more of a quiet person, so not a lot of people know me. So for me to get selected just shows that people see my vision and see the way I want to move. 

What did you think of the YPC process – campaigning, debates and election?

It was eye-opening and new. I’ve never really done anything like that. Originally, I thought it was two separate policy councils – at both sites – but when I come here, and it’s all one big team – it caught me off guard. 

What is one of your main goals, now that you’re on the council?

Workshops. We all like the CTE’s, but some of these people don’t really plan to do it after. 

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Zacore Hall

Why did you want to join the Youth Policy Council?

I’m going to be 100 percent honest – I wasn’t going to join. I was told to join. And I feel like now that I joined, I can get something done. And quite frankly, the only thing that I really want to get done – more or less – is helping out the community. 

How did you feel when you heard you were elected?

It’s time to get something done. Stop talking. Action.

Why do you think your peers wanted you to represent them on the YPC?

Because people see that I get stuff done. I’m not the person to talk about what I want to do. I just say I’m going to do it, and I do it. 

What did you think of the YPC process – campaigning, debates and election?

I feel like I knew I was going to win, so me personally, I just felt like it was more about showing what I was bringing to the table to let [everyone] know what I’m about to do before I do it. 

What is one of your main goals, now that you’re on the council?

My mission with the store – that’s something that’s going to change the aspect of the school – now there’s a reason to not leave. If you don’t have somewhere to go, you don’t have any money – people might not admit that. And for me, myself, personally – I want to open up my own CTE which is business. I feel like you can get the business aspect from working with us in the store, and if you want to pursue it further, that’s for you.