By Armaan Rajwany
High school students from Parkland and Coral Springs had the opportunity to address their elected officials in this year’s 14th annual Teen Political Forum.
The Star-Wars-themed event began with Coral Springs commissioner Larry Vignola who showed his gratitude towards everyone that made the virtual panel possible and that it was his eighth and final chairing the Teen Political Forum due to him being termed out of office in November.
The panelists for the Teen Political Forum were: Coral Springs commissioners Shawn Cerra and Joshua Simmons, commissioner and forum chair Larry Vignola, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, Mayor Scott Brook, Vice Mayor Joy Carter, District 97 State Representative Dan Daley, School Board Member Lori Alhadeff and U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch.
This year’s moderators were: Einav Cohen, Naomi Rozenburg, Jannah Rabah, and Rachel Paul.
The panel began with a question for Mayor Scott Brook.
“Has construction on the additional walkways and shops known as Cornerstone been postponed?”
Brook said he is unaware of any postponement but anticipated talk about the construction in a workshop the following day.
Commissioner Shawn Cerra was asked, “What is one thing you would like to focus on achieving for the city this year?”
Cerra said that he prioritizes school safety and is working very closely with the school board to ensure a smooth transition back into the classroom in the future.
School board member Lori Alhadeff was asked, “What can we expect when students go back to school post-COVID?”
Alhadeff said the school board would have a lengthy discussion next Tuesday about all the different options to keep students and teachers safe when they go back to school. She also mentioned the possibility of a combination of virtual and physical schooling.
Whatever action the school board decides to take, Lori Alhadeff said, “Mackenzie Global Consulting Firm and Harvard Public Education Leadership Project will be helping the school board with that plan moving forward.”
State Representative Dan Daley was asked, “What permanent changes can we expect for Florida when all businesses open up, and life goes back to normal after COVID-19?”
Daley said there are likely going to be changes in the way the government runs and publicly communicates. Daley also mentioned that civic engagement would happen far more virtually than it had before COVID-19.
Police Chief Clyde Parry, who was also present, was asked via Twitter, “Has the city of Coral Springs or the Coral Springs Police Department done anything to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement and prevent future instances of police brutality?”
Parry said that while the city of Coral Springs had not contributed financially, talking and starting the conversation about the movement is the best way to spread its message.
The forum concluded with a video from all the panelists to congratulate the graduating class of 2020. While mentioning the traits of strength and resilience, the video assured the class of 2020 is the future of the community.
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- Armaan Rajwany is a 16-year-old student writer from Coral Springs, Florida. The junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is passionate about youth engagement within local communities.
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