Village Hosts Student Government Day To Celebrate 120th Birthday

Village Hosts Student Government Day To Celebrate 120th Birthday
Posted on 05/22/2012

The Village of Orland Park celebrated its 120th birthday with the help of the next generation. Student Government Day 2012 was held May 21, 2012, just ten days before the 120th anniversary of the village's date of incorporation, May 31, 1892.

"We were looking for exciting ways to celebrate the village's past 120 years and thought it would be fun to have our next generation of leaders be a part of village government," said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin.

Village residents in sixth, seventh and eighth grade were invited to write essays describing what they like best about eight different aspects of village government --- community planning, local government, police department, public services, recreation programs, special events, village facilities and village history.

The essays were then numbered and shared with the chairpersons of the village commissions who scored each, not knowing anything about its writer.

"I understand the commission chairs had a tough time scoring the essays," said Trustee James Dodge, chair of the village's Technology, Communications and Community Engagement Committee, who co-chaired the event with McLaughlin. "They were all that good. The young people of Orland Park are very proud of their community and that came through in all of their essays," Dodge added.

Student Village Board members included Matt Hardt, a seventh grader at Jerling Junior High filling the role of mayor. Charlie Kane, a seventh grader at Century Junior High, served as Village Clerk.

Trustee positions were filled by Robert Burns, a sixth grader at Jerling; Adam Harrington, a seventh grader at St. Michael School; Tommy Hayes, a seventh grader at Central Middle School; Hanna Lowry, a seventh grader at Jerling Junior High; Grace Wierus, a seventh grader at St. Michael and Stephanie Garoufalis, a seventh grader at Orland Junior High School.

Village administrator positions were filled by Marilyn Sedlak, a seventh grader from Orland Junior High School, being village manager. Nicole Al-Khouri, a seventh grader at St. Michael, was named village attorney.

Dennis McCarthy, a seventh grader at St. Michael School and no relation to Police Chief Tim McCarthy, served as police chief with Tianna Chlada, a sixth grader at Central Middle School, being the village's public information officer.

Jamie Zeiler, a seventh grader at Jerling Junior High School, was named public works director while William Davis, a sixth grader at Jerling, served as director of finance. Orland Junior High seventh graders Aislinn Mulvey and Libby Paulson were directors of development services and parks, respectively. Kristen Durkin, an eighth grader at St. Michael, served as director of recreation.

In his essay, Hardt caught the judges' attention by touching on three key areas of the village, the police department, the LEED certified police station and the village's DARE program when he wrote, "The thing I love most about Orland Park is the Police Department….Our new police department is just amazing. It is very green with the driveway that lets the water go into the ground. The three year prairie lets grasses and flowers grow freely," ending with how influential he found the village's DARE program as a sixth grader.

Stephanie Garoufalis, who served as a village trustee, wrote, "…even though we are a small community, we have a lot of history behind us," citing Orland Park's first Mayor John Humphrey's role in shaping the community.

William Davis, who was named director of finance, wrote, "The Village of Orland Park sponsors many exciting programs such as Taste of Orland Park and ceremonies for veterans. What I like best is how my Boy Scout Troop 383 gets to help the veterans --- it's a good feeling knowing I can give back by being of service to them."

Aislinn Mulvey, who served as director of development services, wrote, "What I find most interesting about Orland Park is its history…I hope that my generation can some day make history like our founders."

"The essays showed what's important to our young people," McLaughlin said. "A majority of them wrote about their admiration for the Police Department, describing how they feel safe in Orland Park and mentioning their DARE officers by name. We had many entries describe how much fun they have at the village's Centennial Park Aquatic Center and at the Sportsplex and how much they enjoy all of the village's parks. All of the essays were outstanding."