Each year, since 1972, the Rotary Club of Boca Raton in conjunction with the City of Boca Raton plan and host a “Youth in Government Day” Program. The program is held in January. Through this innovative program, high school students from Boca Raton High School and Spanish River High School get a first-hand look at how city government works.
Youth in Government Day is a program designed to provide high school students with firsthand knowledge of how city government plays an important role in their lives and provides an opportunity for students to actively engage in the legislative process. The goal of the program is to develop an awareness of how the city functions and assist students in becoming well informed and active citizens in their communities.
To participate in the RCBR Youth in Government day, 12-15 students from each of the two high schools are selected by their Government and/or Political Science teacher to participate. Following the Presentation of Colors, each of the available city’s elected officials provides a five minute or less overview of their background and the responsibilities of their city position. Then, the students participate in a mock city commission meeting. The students from both schools are selected to fill the positions of Mayor, City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk, three to four Councilmember slots and concerned residents to discuss the resolutions during a mock city commission meeting. The panel of students is different for each resolution discussed.
Teachers and students are provided with two resolutions and additional information to be discussed during the mock meeting. One school will argue the “pros” of the first resolution and the other school will argue the “cons”. Then, the schools will switch positions for the second resolution. This gives the students an opportunity to understand issues addressed in the resolutions and hopefully help the students to feel comfortable participating in the mock commission meeting. The Assistant City Manager assists during the mock city meeting. The high school students participate in a discussion of the issues and are called upon to answer questions from their counterparts.
Following the mock city commission meeting, the students divide up into small groups and enjoy a tour of the city departments, spending time shadowing their desired governmental position and learning about their responsibilities. The departments available for touring include, but are not limited to Municipal Services, Parks and Recreation, Police Services, Fire Rescue and Utility Services.
After the department tours, the students, teachers and city employees join the Rotary Club of Boca Raton for a sit-down luncheon at the club’s expense and share their Youth In Government day experience.