Vision One students applauded by council, family members

Vision One students applauded by council, family members

Tuesday night’s city council meeting at the Oxford Performing Arts Center was a showcase of how a new generation is displaying and planning their efforts to better the community and area in which they live.

The more than 90 students currently participating in the Vision 1 program were represented on the OPAC stage by members who told of their work, projects, and hopes for the future. Their audience was formed with the mayor, the city council, city staff, and families.

Vision 1 is a cooperative project of the city of Oxford and Oxford City Schools, bringing together students with city and business leaders, promoting the ideas of leadership and community involvement.

Vision 1 facilitator Holly Harmon said there are currently 22 students at C.E. Hannah Elementary, 24 students at Oxford Middle School, and 50 students at Oxford High School participating during the program’s eighth year of existence.

“We have seen students rise in their speaking abilities and their leadership abilities when they are involved in this program,” Harmon said. “They rise to the occasion.”

The students, who are chosen using a matrix of merits, meet monthly with city leaders to discuss ideas and often develop their own ideas to better meet the needs of the city and its citizens.

Students at C.E. Hannah are working on an outdoor classroom. OMS students are discussing ways to better connect with senior citizens. OHS students are devising ways to better promote Oxford’s diverse recreational opportunities.

They are also looking to make the program regional as they have welcomed Alexandria High School students in to learn how such a program can help better their own hometown.

“Whenever you are an adult in education, and you feel bad about having to follow teenagers who speak so well, you know that something is going right,” said AHS principal Jason Deason. “This has been an incredible experience for us and is a testament to all the great things the community of Oxford is doing.”

AHS students have already raised hundreds of dollars and gathered children’s Christmas toys for those being served by Red Mountain Grace, a nonprofit which helps those needing housing while their loved ones are hospitalized outside of their hometown – a drive inspired by Deason’s own experience with the organization.

AHS students also announced they are planning “Alexandria-Fest” to be held on their campus April 21.

“Meeting with these young people over the last eight years has been amazing,” said Mayor Alton Craft. “I could not be prouder of how they have gone out and taken care of senior citizens and other folks. It’s a blessing to be a part of their lives, and, hopefully, one day, they will replace all of us, and we will have some good leadership.”