Teen Committee promotes civic engagement


When the late Bill Lane was in town, as often as not he could be found every other Wednesday evening in the Historic Schoolhouse attending to the proceedings of the Portola Valley Town Council.

Mr. Lane, the town's first mayor and its longtime advocate, was preeminent on the importance of exercising democratic practices available to U.S. citizens, particularly the citizens who live in Portola Valley.

In the memory of Mr. Lane and his wife Jean, the town's Teen Committee has reconceived its civic mentorship program as the Bill and Jean Lane Civic Involvement Program. Under that name, the program is expected to get going in the fall, said committee chair Sharon Driscoll.

"This program ... would provide an opportunity for local high school teens to learn about the town's government, to experience firsthand the vital work of the town's committees and the importance of citizen input," a written description of the program says.

"We want students to dip their toe into this thing called town government -- to attend meetings, listen to what's going on, and perhaps ask a few questions if they are so inclined," the statement said.

Sufficient participation of that kind by an individual student confers the status of Bill and Jean Lane Civic Scholar. "I'm sure we'll figure this out a bit as we go, but we were thinking eight meetings for the first level, and then the paper is added for the second," Ms. Driscoll said in an e-mail

To become a Civic Fellow, a Scholar under the oversight of a teacher, must write an original paper on a subject of local civic interest. Assuming that the school gives the paper a pass -- using a pass/fail standard -- it will be posted on the Teen Committee's website, the statement said.

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