“I wanted to know my city before I went off to college,” said Morgan Flowers, 17, a junior at Snider High School.
“I just wanted to find different and interesting ways to give back,” said Aliza Adhami, 16, a sophomore at Canterbury High School.
The council's year of work culminates with the Fort Wayne's Almost Famous teen talent contest from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at One Summit Square and the adjacent block of Calhoun Street. The event showcases local teen musicians, singers, dancers and entertainers and brings teens downtown to cheer on and mingle with their peers.
Participation on the council is open to Fort Wayne residents in grades 10-12, said Karen Richards, a community liaison for special programs with Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry's office. They must apply and then go through an interview process. City officials selected 22 students to serve on the council this year.
“We ended up with a really diverse group of young people,” both in age and ethnicity, Richards said.
The council normally meets once a month, but that can change to weekly before a major event, such as the Almost Famous contest.
Henry talks with the students about leadership, and they get a better idea about how government works, Richards said. They also participate in community-service projects, such as last weekend's Great American Cleanup.
The ultimate goal is to get them involved in the community now, Richards said, so they will be more inclined to return and use their skills and talents here after graduating from college.
Council members said serving on the group has been fun and educational.
“I'm more organized,” said Taylor Reid, 18, a senior at New Tech Academy at Wayne High School.
Serving on the Youth Engagement Council the past three years has helped her learn the business side of government, and she has enjoyed being part of a group that “gets things done.”
Reid, the talent committee chair for this year's Almost Famous contest, hopes to pursue a career as a music producer and manager.
Peter Haffner, 17, a junior at Homestead High School, and Danish Ghazali, 17, a junior at Canterbury High School, both have enjoyed being part of an effort to do something good for the community.
Haffner, who serves on the Almost Famous finance committee, said he's learned how to adapt to different personalities and work styles. Service on the youth council also “opened my eyes to what government officials have to put up with” and the tough decisions they have to make.
And after calling a lot of companies to ask them to help sponsor the Almost Famous event, “I definitely have more respect for telemarketers,” he added.
Ghazali, who serves on the council's Almost Famous marketing committee, said he has learned more about how to organize an event and about taking leadership to make sure things get done.
“We want everyone to come out and enjoy the time out there,” he said.
Local talent showcaseWhat: Fort Wayne's Almost Famous teen talent show will spotlight some of the city's best musicians, vocalists, dancers and entertainers. Food and information booths also will be available.
When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Downtown at One Summit Square and the adjoining 900 block of Calhoun Street
Cost: Free. Proceeds and donations will go to The Reclamation Project, which provides services to immigrants and refugees and also is working to restore the former Rialto theater in the 2600 block of South Calhoun Street.
Information: Follow the event at FW_AlmostFamous on Twitter or on Facebook.