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A little youthful advice

Mayor's Youth Advisory Board hopes summit makes positive impact on community
by: Jonathan House, Halah Ilias and Lulu Xiao, co-chairwomen of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board, will join other teens in pushing for positive changes that will benefit the community and environment.

Halah Ilias and Lulu Xiao are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and work toward positive changes in their community.

As the co-chairwomen of the Mayor's Youth Advisory Board, they are making strides to impact Beaverton's quality of life as they head a dynamic group of 26 young leaders from throughout the district.

'Halah and Lulu are two outstanding individuals,' said Mayor Rob Drake. 'I see in them a great deal of promise for our future.

'They are really representative of the sharp kids we have making a difference in our community. The two of them have very different leadership styles that complement one another.'

Debbie Baidenmann, coordinator of the advisory board, agreed.

'I've been very impressed with their abilities to lead,' Baidenmann said. 'Both are extremely focused.

'What I really like about both of them is that they are extremely dedicated. They are young, but they are globally minded. They want to make the world a better place, and they are definitely making strides.'

Ilias and Xiao have both been on the advisory board for three years.

'I interviewed for it in eighth grade because I thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved in politics, which really interested me,' said Xiao, a Southridge High School junior. 'Being a part of the Mayor's Youth Advisory Board is a good way for student leaders from different schools to get together and make a bigger difference in the Beaverton School District.'

Ilias, a Southridge High School senior, decided to get involved with the advisory board as a way to become more active in the community.

'I didn't like just doing activities in school, I wanted to do more within the community,' Ilias said. 'I stayed with it because I felt we could actually get something done.

'It's the one place students can actually voice their opinions on what's going on in the community. By having the support of the mayor, we can actually accomplish our goals.'

Healthy community

One of those goals is to have a successful Youth Summit and launch a community campaign to transform all public and private schools into 'green schools' in the next few years.

During the Youth Summit on Oct. 28, young people who attend the event will be asked to participate in open discussions and debates while creating propositions and plans for changes.

'Our goal is to inform the youth about the topics of school funding, school rights and green schools,' Xiao said. 'Our biggest goal is to try to convert all schools into green schools like Southridge and Beaverton.

'We'll have the youth submit their plans to the mayor and our board and we'll select the best one to submit to the school district and private schools. We don't expect schools to convert within one year because it's a long process, but we're hoping to lay the foundation this year.'

Ilias agreed and added that by starting in schools, youth could set an example for businesses and families in the community to follow.

'With global warming, it's important that we all do our part,' Ilias said. 'There are basic ways of helping the environment and helping to ensure that future generations have a healthy community.'

Members of the advisory board are also setting their sights on lobbying legislators to make stabilizing school funding a priority in the next session and helping garner support for the Washington County Cooperative Library Services levy in the November election.

'This is the seventh year of the advisory board, and it's shaping up to be among our best,' Drake said.

Getting things done

In addition to their responsibilities on the advisory board, Ilias and Xiao are also active in their school and other extracurricular activities.

Ilias is captain of the Speech and Debate Team, president of Diversity Club, vice president of the National Honor's Society, tutors at the Bilal Mosque, volunteers at the Beaverton City Library every Sunday, attends Religious School and is a member of the Muslim Youth of North America.

Xiao is co-chairwoman of the Washington County Youth Advisory Council, member of the Speech and Debate Team, Key Club member, undersecretary of Oregon's Model United Nations Program, member of the Varsity Swim Team, National Honor's Society member and member of the International Baccalaureate Executive Committee. She also is an accomplished artist and pianist.

'Like the other members of our board, we are all just motivated people,' Xiao said. 'Our board is really awesome.'

'We're committed to getting things done,' Ilias added.

Youth Summit scheduled

The Beaverton Mayor's Youth Advisory Board invites middle and high school students to attend its Youth Summit from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 28 at the Beaverton City Library.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. for the free event and lunch will be provided.

This event is an opportunity to provide a voice for youth in local and school policies. Featured topics include school funding with School Board Chairwoman Priscilla Turner, green schools with Sue Shade and school rights with Robert Stafford.

Mayor Rob Drake and state Sen. Ryan Deckert will also speak during the event.

Participants are encouraged to express their views and influence change in the community.

For more information, visit www.beavertonoregon.gov.