On May 31, a series of landmark ordinances were considered on the floor of the Chicago City Council, including one that would assist lower-income families in gentrified neighbors and one that would construct five new mental health facilities across the city.
If this sounds like an odd about-face, that’s because the City Council members who took the floor last month were Chicago Public Schools students conducting a model City Council meeting.
The meeting was part of the first Next Generation City Council simulation sponsored by City Clerk Anna M. Valencia.
“Participating students were chosen by ‘running for office’ within their classrooms and were elected by their peers to represent one of 50 Aldermen, City Clerk and Mayor for the day,” officials with the clerk’s office said in a statement.
Among those model council members were eight students from Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet School, 5101 W. Harrison St.
Felicity Williams, a 17-year-old senior at Michele Clark, said that she was selected to participate in the model City Council because of her involvement in her civics class.
“I was very active in my civics class in the first place,” she said. “I showed how I cared about my community, I showed that I really wanted to make a change, talked about gun violence, gentrification and how I felt like these issues affected me as well as my peers.”
The experience, Williams said, was revelatory and “amazing.”
“Honestly, before I got the chance to do this I didn’t feel that my voice was being heard,” she said. “But having all of these people listen to me and my peers it shows that they are listening to us, that we really are the future and that we really have the opportunity to make a change.”