Two Rivers Student Serves as West St. Paul’s First Junior Councilmember

McKinley Cherrier, an 11th-grade Two Rivers High School student, has been appointed as the inaugural Junior Councilmember of the West St. Paul City Council.

A new program at the City of West St Paul is giving high school students more voice in local government. The City Council swore in their first Junior Councilmember, Two Rivers student McKinley Cherrier, at last night's City Council meeting to create a link between West St. Paul city officials and local youth.
"Organizations and groups and governing bodies make better decisions when they have a wider group of voices in the room,” shared West St Paul Councilmember Wendy Berry. “Having a voice that can speak to what younger demographics are experiencing or what they want or need in the community they call home is really important for us as a council as we look at long-term planning for our city."

Elevating Student Voices

The city's new program aligns with the District's ongoing efforts to increase opportunities that elevate student voice—both in the classroom and at the district level. Between the District's established School Board Student Representative roles and the new Superintendent Student Advisory Council, we're continually finding ways to include student voice in decision-making processes.
"One of our goals at Two Rivers is to find as many prosocial opportunities for our students outside the school walls as possible," shared Two Rivers Principal Dr. Al Johnson. "I am thankful to be in a school where our community sees the value of student voice and welcomes our youth into those arenas. These experiences are invaluable and will create future leaders."

McKinley’s Role as a Junior Councilmember

As a Junior Councilmember, McKinley will attend official City Council meetings, work sessions, strategy planning meetings, and other significant meetings where he will sit with the City Council. This unique opportunity allows McKinley to provide valuable input on matters brought before the council, ensuring that the voices of West St. Paul's youth are heard and considered in strategic choices.
"I'm interested in politics and look forward to better understanding government at the local level," McKinley shared. "I hope to bring a different perspective to the City Council, a perspective of someone still in high school. Many things they're talking about affect us directly, so it makes sense to have a seat at the table."
McKinley's interests and experience at Two Rivers fit well with this new role at the City Council. As a member of the Two Rivers Speech and Debate team, McKinley has experience in all of the elements of public speaking—listening, analysis, critical thinking, and collaboration. "Speech and Debate lets you talk about important issues," McKinley shared. "You can focus on current events and look for solutions."
McKinley also serves as a student tutor at Two Rivers and was recently accepted into the High School Page Program—an opportunity to learn and serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Tentatively planning to pursue political science or law in his post-secondary journey, McKinley said he is excited to take the skills and knowledge he learns through the West St. Paul Junior Council Program wherever the future takes him.
Congratulations, McKinley!
Photo credit: City of West St. Paul