by Donna McBride

Lead by example: Three simple words that are often forgotten when you are in the thick of controversy, important decisions and getting things done. Let’s face it – everyone makes mistakes, especially those in leadership positions. It’s what we do with our mistakes that move us forward, or backwards. I always look at what I do through the eyes of my family. My sons were always my best – and worst – critics. They helped shape my leadership skills. Now young men with successes of their own, I still want to lead by example for them. Working with young people has that effect on you. They are always watching.

In Casa Grande, we are fortunate to have a group of young leaders who are shaping the future of our community. The Casa Grande Youth Commission is composed of 16 students representing Casa Grande Union and Vista Grande high schools. After going through an interview process, the students were selected to represent the mayor and council by being the eyes and ears on issues related to their peers. They have guidelines that they set for themselves as a team. It is inspiring to watch them mentor one another, often leading by example.

City Councilman Matt Herman, Community Services staff member Jeff Molner and volunteer advisors Karl Montoya, Kendra Bray and Krystal Heinz guide this high energy group. Kendra and Krystal were both youth members of the Youth Commission when they were in high school and have now come back to put their leadership skills to work. They are doing a great job of leading by example.

At the group’s annual retreat in August, they were given the task of sharing their views about what inspired them to take on a leadership role as well as their own goals and qualities they look for in adult mentors. Take note, you may just see a future city leader in this group!

President Alexandra Chapparro is a senior at Vista Grande High School and has set a goal to give back to her community by providing services like the Day of Shredding Recycling Program. She also looks forward to guiding others down the road of community love, involvement and responsibility. Adults who are able to dismiss a narrow mindset and open their ears to hear students are the qualities Alexandra looks for in an adult mentor. Mentors who provide wisdom in conjunction with their eccentric ideas is what she considers most successful.

Vice President Gloria Holt is a junior at Casa Grande Union High School. She was inspired to get involved with the Youth Commission because of the many actions the group has taken around the community to promote positive change. Gloria wants to stay focused and dedicated in everything she does, no matter what obstacles she is faced with. A leadership quality she finds important is “drive.” If you are not driven by change or positivity, nothing will be done or changed.

Treasurer Mackenzie Lopez is a senior at Vista Grande High School. She wanted to get more involved with Casa Grande and interact with people outside of school. As a member of the commission, Mackenzie has set her own leadership goal to become more social and approachable. Adult mentors should be reliable and approachable. Just like students, adults need to be reliable. Being able to talk to them is important to Mackenzie.

Public Relations Officer Shawn “Alex” Johnstone is a junior at Casa Grande Union. He decided to get involved after being inspired by past successful and charismatic Youth Commission leaders. His goal is to make an impact on someone’s life in the same way as other commission members have done for him. Adult mentors who can win Alex over are those who can speak effectively. He looks for someone who has an ability with words.

Secretary Acela Eldridge is a senior at Vista Grande High School. Her friends inspired her to get involved after she saw all the amazing projects they had the privilege to work on. Her goal is to become more outspoken. Teens have great ideas, but no one will ever know about them unless they are brave enough to speak up. One leadership quality that Acela looks for in an adult mentor is someone who is willing to tell it like it is. From what she’s learned on the commission, honesty is the key when working with anyone in order to make something great happen.

Dylan Goodsell is a sophomore at Casa Grande Union High School. His reason for getting involved with the commission came after he saw problems in the community and decided to step up and make a difference. Volunteering as much time as he can to helping the city is Dylan’s goal for the year. In terms of adult mentors, he pays attention to their own life experiences. Whether they have struggled, had hard times or fun times, it’s important how they handled things.

Thaliana Mercado is a junior at Vista Grande High School and decided to get involved to help others and to make her community a better place. Seeing what the Youth Commission has done inspired her to do the same. Her goal is to guide others in situations by using the skills she has acquired over the years so they can reach their goals, too. Thaliana is looking for adult mentors who direct her on the path that will lead to success as a person, reaching her goals and beyond.

Henry Sholes attends Casa Grande Union as a junior. He was inspired to join the Youth Commission so he could be the voice for youth and take advantage of all the benefits that come with being a member. He wants to improve his communication skills so he can speak more naturally and help Casa Grande youth. When looking for an adult mentor, Henry looks for someone who is a strong communicator, meaning they are approachable, considerate and have open ears.

Lincoln Opara goes to Casa Grande Union as a junior. He was inspired to take part in the commission to share his opinions and those of other youth in Casa Grande. His goal is to take part and make changes in our community by participating in projects that benefit youth. Adult mentors who are focused and dedicated to keep the group focused on its vision is important to Lincoln.

Adrianna Alejandra Guerra is a sophomore from Vista Grande High School. She wanted to be involved with the commission to help the community. A leadership goal is to communicate with other commissioners and her community. She wants to receive feedback, advice and opinions. To be able to make a difference and work together as a community is important to Adrianna. She wants adult mentors to show respect and be responsible while sharing feedback and advice, so they can improve their own work and improve themselves.

Madison Reeves attends Casa Grande Union as a senior. She heard about the commission through friends and noticed they were getting involved in the city in a way that she always wanted to. By being a member herself, Madison has set a goal to be more involved and make sure the concerns of youth are heard and brought to the city council. Adult mentors who have passion in their jobs or projects inspire Madison. Not only does it motivate her, but it helps spread the excitement and shows they care.

Sheyenne Donlay of Vista Grande High School is a senior who was inspired to make a positive change in Casa Grande by being the voice for youth. Making this year even better than last year, along with having some fun, is Sheyenne’s goal. An important leadership goal for adults to have is to be someone who is willing to listen to opinions and views of others while being open to ideas and suggestions.

Lynette Butrom attends Casa Grande Union as a senior. She applied for the commission because she wanted to be a voice in government while having a better understanding of Casa Grande’s position as a city. Her personal goal is to complete more community service projects and make sure the commission expresses its opinions in a productive way. Lynette is drawn to adult mentors who are stern, understanding and inspirational.

Nathan Harris is a senior at Vista Grande High School. Having such a great experience last year led him to continue with the commission. Nathan wants to develop and promote good teamwork abilities among the commission, making everyone feel like family. Adult mentors who possess respect are important to Nathan. If a mentor respects students, he or she will get respect back.

Jasmine Moreno, a sophomore at Vista Grande High School, was inspired to help her community be a better place. The Youth Commission allows her to do that. She has set her goal to have good communication between the commission and her peers by contributing their ideas. One leadership quality Jasmine feels is important is respect – not only respect for themselves, but for the community and everyone in it, regardless of their color, education or religion.

Simarah Smith is a senior at Casa Grande Union. Inspiration to join the commission came from a close friend after learning how important the commission is for local youth. Assisting with more events and taking on leadership roles is a goal for the year. Adult mentors with an open mind are helpful, because everyone has ideas. It’s important for mentors to take everyone’s opinions into consideration.