Class Notes from Krekorian's Youth Leadership Academy

The students of Councilmember Krekorian's San Fernando Valley Youth Leadership Academy celebrated the end of the summer program. (l-r) Ivan Bermudez, Isabel Zavian, Ella Pallenberg, Wilder Short and Sheikh Jibran.

EAST VALLEY - This week, the five bright students of the San Fernando Valley Leadership Academy's inaugural class completed the program. A civic-engagement program for high school student to learn about city government and cultivate their leadership skills to make a difference in their community, Councilmember Krekorian launched the program earlier this year. The student got an insider's look and shared their experience. 



From visiting city departments, meeting with city workers, and exploring important sites, we learned a lot about the city's history and how all the levels of our local government functions.

During our first days of the program, we learned about the San Fernando Valley's history and how a City Council office works. "On our trip to the Campo de Cahuenga, we heard the fascinating history of how Los Angeles came to be," said Ella Pallenberg. "Some of the major streets, including Pico, Lankershim and Weddington were all named after some of the most powerful families in California's early history." Ella is a rising senior at Campbell Hall, she writes for the school newspaper and plays Varsity soccer.

"Touring the North Hollywood Police Station, Hope of the Valley Help Center, and the North Hollywood Fire Station was an eye-opening experience for me," said Isabel Zavian. "We learned about the hard work police officers do to keep our community safe." Isabel is a rising junior at AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School, a representative on student council, journalism and yearbook. 

"The city funds and provides resources to parks. Parks create a safe space for youth by offering programs such as free preschool, low-cost music lessons, and health and fitness classes," said Wilder Short, a rising junior and class prefect at Harvard-Westlake. He is also a volunteer at USC's Camp Kesem, a group that provides support for children whose parents have cancer.

"When it comes to running a city, nothing is more central than remembering the environment and transportation systems," shared Ivan Bermudez, a rising junior at North Hollywood Hight School's Highly Gifted Magnet. "At Tree People, we learned how policies come to fruition to create a more environmentally friendly LA. 

Local government is also responsible for making sure people can get around and how the city and Metro work together to ensure that the residents of our city have access to public transportation." Ivan is involved with the YMCA Model Legislature, Model United Nations, and enjoys art and music. 

"At the Dept. of Transportation we learned that all branches of our local government are intertwined and affect one another with every decision they make. Cooperation is a big part in local politics and everyone must always be open to compromise," said Sheikh Jibran, a rising junior at Oakwood Secondary School in Valley Village. Sheikh is an active volunteer, president of Oakwood Chapter Junior Statesman of America, coordinator of the Little Bangladesh Youth Group, and founder and president of Global Youth Leadership Organization.

The Youth Leadership Academy has given us an unforgettable learning experience. Not only has this program allowed us to explore the diverse aspects of local government, but it has also broadened our understanding of each department and how they affect daily lives. various parts of my community, the challenges it faces on a daily basis, and the ways in which those problems are solved. Having been exposed to various parts of our community, the challenges it faces daily, and learning about the ways in which those problems are solved, we appreciate all the hard working people who maintain this great city. 

In the end, we have had an incredible summer experience that we will never forget as we pursue our passion for making positive change in our community.