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Lititz’s Junior Borough Council members: Where are they now?
Six years ago, Aaron Graybill became the first junior council member for Lititz Borough.
Since 2010, there have been 10 more, each serving terms of four to six months.
“It’s been a breath of fresh air,” Borough Council President Karen Weibel said back in 2014 when Samson Cassel-Nucci was a junior member of the local government.
Like all of the council members, Weibel has been fully supportive of having a young person join them in borough council chambers once a month or more. It offers a new perspective on serving the Lititz community, by presenting the views of young people. Even though the junior members cannot vote, and they have not been elected to office, they are encouraged to express their views.
“It’s been a very good thing for borough council,” said former councilman Doug Bomberger, who organized and supervised the junior program until his final term in office came to an end in December (he did not seek reelection).
Junior council members are appointed through an application process that includes a detailed essay. They come from Warwick High School, Linden Hall, and Lititz Christian School. With Bomberger’s departure from borough council, Mayor Timothy Snyder is now coordinating the program.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with the young people,” Bomberger said in December. “They brought so much to the table.”
It was his idea to look back at the past six years to find out what these former junior council members have been up to since their time in borough hall. As it turns out, most are college students, a few have already graduated, several are interested in politics, and others are talented musicians, gymnastics champions, world travelers and artists.
Graybill is a 2011 graduate of Warwick High School who went on to earn his B.A. degree in anthropology, with a French minor, from American University in Washington, D.C. He is now working toward his Master of Arts in Middle Eastern and North African studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is a graduate teaching assistant at the School of Middle Eastern & North African Studies.
Graybill’s interest in the world was spurred by being a foreign exchange student to Morocco in 2013. While he was in college, he worked for three summers at Clair Global, the local audio company that supplies sound equipment for concerts, testing and repairing cables before they were sent on tour.
“As part of my study abroad experience I interned as a researcher for the newspaper Attajdid,” Graybill said, adding that he compiled research on events in the Middle East and North Africa and wrote reports.
He also volunteered with Ravvish, a non-profit education initiative that works with school children in five cities in Pakistan in the areas of peace and conflict resolution.
Ready to make a difference in the world far beyond his hometown of Lititz, Graybill is fluent in French and speaks Modern Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic and Egyptian Arabic.
Anna Workman was the second junior council member, joining the board in 2011. The daughter of teacher Nora Workman and well-known artist Mark Workman, Anna graduated from Linden Hall School for Girls in 2012. Now 22, she is a senior at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, majoring in applied developmental psychology, set to graduate in May.
“My uncle was the solicitor for the borough, and my mother was on the historical advisory committee, so I was curious about how our local government operated,” she said. “It gave me a greater appreciation for those who volunteer to keep the town running smoothly.”
Workman will be putting her dedication to public service to use this spring when she interns at SafeNet, a domestic abuse shelter in Erie. That should keep the energetic student very busy, along with being a student receptionist in the campus life office at Edinboro; secretary for Psi Chi, the International Honor Society for Psychology; a Highland Ambassador working with the president of the university; and a member of a psychology of creativity research group at the American Psychological Association Conference.
“I hope to get a job working with youth and adolescents who struggle with self-empowerment,” said Workman, who encourages young people to get involved in their communities.
She said being a junior council member gave her a hands-on learning experience and greater understanding for what goes on behind the various town events and organizations. She gained an appreciation for local government, the townspeople and what they do behind the scenes on the committees.
Jordan Conrad joined borough council in 2012 to gain an understanding of local government. The 2013 Warwick graduate went on to Bloomsburg University, where she is majoring in English, with dreams to go on to law school after she graduates in 2018. Right now, she is busy with summer wedding plans and proudly serves in the Air Force National Guard as a security forces member.
At this point in her life, Conrad says that her plans for the future are fluid, noting that, “I am willing to be lead where God wants me, be that law enforcement, politics, traveling, or simply motherhood.”
“It was such an honor to sit there at a table with Mayor (Ron) Oettel and all of the council people, and watch them make decisions and choices that effect borough residents with the greatest of care,” she said. “They love this town and are passionate about growing it and bettering it in every way. It was humbling to see how much time and energy it takes to make a town run, and all of the council people were willing to give it all that they had.”
Conrad adds that serving as a junior council person gave her an advantage at college, especially in political science classes. The now-21-year-old took away valuable knowledge to last a lifetime on how local government makes the decisions that directly affect “your life, your home, your town, and your well-being.”
Robby Stoudt is another 2013 graduate of WHS who learned the ropes of local government as a junior council member. Now 20, he is studying business administration, with an emphasis in entrepreneurship, at Susquehanna University, where he is a junior. He is currently studying abroad in London with the Sigmund Weiss School of Business, and is set to graduate in 2017. He recently ended his one-year term as president of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
Last summer, Stoudt was an intern at Lancaster General Health in the government affairs and grants department. After graduation, he plans to work in the non-clinical side of hospital administration, so the LGH internship provided great experience, as did his term with Lititz Borough Council.
“Being on junior council provided background skills and information that better prepared me to operate in that field,” said Stoudt, who originally applied for the program through Bomberger. “I wanted to become more involved with Lititz and gain a broader perspective of ongoing issues within the community. The program proved to be extremely beneficial. The most important thing that I had learned was that the Lititz Borough truly has the best leaders to help plan, sustain, and build the future of our beloved, small town.”
Meg Rothermel joined borough council in 2013, the same year she graduated from Warwick. Like her predecessors, Rothermel has worked hard to reach her goals in life.
Now 20, she attended HACC to earn her general education credits before transferring to Clarion University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in psychology. She graduated summa cum laude on Dec. 12, able to graduate with her degree in just two and a half years because she took a large number of courses each semester, including summer, in order to save money.
She is now all set to go to law school this summer. Always budget-minded, she is waitressing and working at a retreat center to earn money for her next endeavor. In the meantime, she is getting her political gears in shape by helping Tim Reedy with his campaign for the District 37 Pennsylvania House seat.
“After graduating law school, I hope to help children with special needs,” said the young woman who intends to use her legal and political background to help the youngest members of society.
Rothermel became interested in junior council through Jordan Conrad. The experience lived up to her expectations, as she learned a great deal about how local government is organized and run. She recalls that one of her favorite meeting was when members of the community came in to share their views regarding rental agreements. She was impressed that community members really do care what happens locally, and they will voice their opinion to make sure that their views are heard.
“The most important thing that I learned was that while borough council oversees a relatively small number of people, the work that they do is important,” she said. “Local government directly impacts citizens’ daily lives.”
Sarah Sandkuhler joined Lititz Borough Council in 2014 as a Linden Hall junior. She graduated the following year and headed to the University of Rochester. The 18-year-old is set to graduate college with the class of 2019, majoring in neuroscience, with a minor in music.
“I plan on going onto an M.D./Ph.D program to earn both a medical degree and a Ph.D., with the ultimate goal of becoming a research physician in neuroscience or a neuropathologist,” she said.
With medicine and neuroscience in her future, Sandkuhler may not be planning a career in government, but her experience on junior council gave her a greater appreciation for local government.
“Serving on the junior council is a really special opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge about local government and all the often-unseen effort that goes into running our town,” she said. “Local government is the closest level of government that affects our everyday lives. It most directly addresses the needs of our community, impacts our day-to-day actions, and is the level with which citizens can have the most interaction and opportunity to participate.”
Samson Cassel-Nucci served with borough council as junior in 2013, and graduated from Warwick in 2014.
“I was interested in the junior council person position because I wanted to get involved in an activity outside of my school, and I desired to learn more about how local government operates,” he said, adding that the position exceeded his expectations, as he met many knowledgeable, hardworking people and learned what it takes to keep a small town alive and functional.
Now 20, Cassel-Nucci is attending the University of Pittsburgh, where he is pursuing a double major in supply chain management and global management, with a minor in economics and a certificate in leadership and ethics. He was involved with the Department of Commerce at the U.S. Commercial Service as a marketing and communications intern. He eventually plans to go into the hospitality industry, with hopes to work for Marriott International in the future.
“The most important thing I learned was to always be prepared for whatever you wanted to talk about,” he recalled of his borough council service. “The other council members, whether they were advocates of a specific initiative or adamantly opposed to an agenda item, knew what they wanted to say and could back it up. This pushed me to be as prepared as possible when delivering my agenda items to the council, and has since inspired me to always know what I’m talking about when speaking or presenting in classes or my job.”
Jeff Bragg served as a junior council member in 2014, graduated from Warwick in 2015, and then was off to study at Temple University.
When he was sworn in as a junior council member, he reported that he was also a member of the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary unit to the U.S. Air Force, for four years. He helped with cleanup when the town of Marietta was flooded.
Bragg was planning to study astronomy and astrophysics, but music has become a huge part of his life. At various Lititz events and festivals, Bragg can be seen and heard performing acoustic Americana with his musician pal Matt Wenger. He has used his musical talents to help in making a political stand, as in the Concert for Refugees that was held at Tellus360 in January.
“Serving on borough council helped to give me a more well-rounded understanding of local government,” he said.
Breahna Wiczkowski is another 2015 Warwick graduate who served as a junior council member.
After graduation, she was off to Temple University in the fall, where she has been awarded a full academic scholarship. The scholarly teen plans to major in social work. She is also an accomplished athlete with Temple’s competitive gymnastic team. Involved in gymnastics since she was three, she has been competing at the Junior Olympics level. As she wrote in her essay, “Getting young people to care and to address the issues will do nothing but good for the community.”
You don’t have to look far to find out what Emma Jo Phillips has been doing since she became the 10th junior council member on Lititz Borough Council. That’s because she is still there, attending council meetings on the last Tuesday of each month.
The youngest junior council member in the program’s history, Phillips is just 16 and a junior at Lititz Christian School. She is interested in learning more about local government because of her interest in forensics, which she developed after attending a program at Penn State where she studied DNA in crime-solving. She hopes to go on to Penn State to study forensics.
Also, she has been riding horses since she was six, and she completes in hunter jumper riding competitions. So, a recent visit to Lancaster City’s mounted police department was a memorable experience for the horse-loving, investigative teen.
For more information on Lititz’s Junior Council program, contact Mayor Tim Snyder at the borough office, 626-2044.
Laura Knowles is a freelance reporter who covers the Lititz Borough municipal beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Laura Knowles
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