IN GOOD COMPANY — DeLand’s new Youth Council will be in good company with Orange City’s, pictured here earlier this year. Originally formed in 2019, the council is composed of seven local high-school students who either attend University High School, a local private high school, an online school or are home-schooled in Orange City. From left are Orange City Council Members Kelli Marks, Lisa Stafford and Cassandra Jones with students Kaden Martin, Caleb Richmond, Mayor Gary Blair, students Katie Blix and Bianca Slotabec, Orange City Council Member Bill O’Connor and students Rylee Amodeo, Jenna Narunsky and Paige Watts.

The City of DeLand is looking to let the voices of local youth be heard. This fall, the city’s Youth Council will give high-school-age students an opportunity to weigh in.

Mayor Chris Cloudman said an opportunity for young people to share their thoughts about DeLand is something he has wanted to see for years. Rather than viewing it like a club, Cloudman said, the City Commission will take the council’s opinions to heart.

“There are a lot of good components as far as being a club and doing service projects, but I think just as importantly is having a way for the voice of the youth to weigh in on everything and everything we’re doing at the city,” Cloudman said. “Decisions we make are going to affect their lives more long-term.”

A lot of the specifics on what topics the Youth Council will discuss haven’t been worked out yet, but that’s because city officials want it to grow organically from what students are interested in.

“Early on we’re going to have the students meet with the City Commission and maybe from those discussions they can come up with some issues they want to tackle,” Community Information Manager Chris Graham said. “Really, this is about students focusing on issues that affect them and seeing what we can do to create a better future for them in DeLand.”

City officials are looking for the opportunity to hear from the young members of their constituencies. For his part, Cloudman said he often speaks with children while working or volunteering in the community.

“They’re not afraid to talk to me or ask me about things,” he said.

DeLand High School history teacher Dr. Lindsay Brinkmann said she hopes the program will give students an opportunity to forge relationships with city leaders and learn how to impact their community for good.

“I personally hope that the Youth Council provides teenage community members with an opportunity to feel heard and positively contribute to the world around them,” Brinkmann told The Beacon.

Applications for the DeLand Youth Council are due by Sept. 29. To be eligible for participation, applicants must be of high-school age and either students at DeLand High School or reside within the city.

To apply, visit the City of DeLand’s website at


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