The members of the Tarpon Springs Teen Council are, from left, DC Austin, Kaila Crews, Michael Risola, Santiago Benitez, Kalei Renardo, Rachel Navarro and Sara Yothers.
TARPON SPRINGS – Almost 10 years after its inception, the Tarpon Springs Teen Council is finally finding its footing.
In August 2004, the Tarpon Springs City Commission, led by then-Mayor Beverly Billiris, voted unanimously to create the seven-person teen council, made up of Tarpon Springs residents enrolled at Tarpon Springs High School.
According to the resolution, the council recommends equipment needs and budgetary consideration for the city’s parks and recreation programs, help with youth events for city-sponsored festivals and programs, perform service projects that benefit Tarpon Springs and serve as an advisory board for issues related to youth delegated to the council by the Board of Commissioners.
“We’re the public’s eye on what teens want,” said senior Kaila Crews, one of the seven members of the teen council.
In a sense, the teen council is the link between Tarpon Springs High School and City Hall, between teenagers and city officials. And in the last year alone, that link has helped create the splash park in the North Safford Recreation Corridor and collected money and canned food for a Holiday Food Drive.
Most recently, several teen council members volunteered to help run the Tarpon Springs Open House and facilitated Congressman Gus Bilirakis’ Annual Veteran’s Fair.
Tanya King, who teaches social studies at Tarpon Springs High School, serves as the teacher adviser for the council.
“Anything that gets students more involved in local government is great,” she said.
Junior DC Austin, who was personally asked to join the teen council by Mayor David Archie, said he enjoys being a direct connection with the City Commission, but thinks the council can do more.
“We’re creating our own legacy,” Austin said, “but we’re still growing and gaining more reputation.”
Part of the difficulty in maintaining a productive teen council is the constant turnover of members due to graduation, said City Clerk Irene Jacobs. But she still believes that the council is headed in the right direction for the city.
To apply for the Tarpon Springs Teen Council, you must be a resident of Tarpon Springs currently enrolled at Tarpon Springs High School. The application, which is available online at ctsfl.us/CityClerk/TeenCouncilApplica
tion.pdf, must be returned to the City Clerk’s office along with a recommendation from a teacher, principal or counselor.
The council also has expressed interest in helping organizations within Tarpon Springs, including running events.