Apex Park and Recreation District Board of Directors appoints first Youth Commission

2018 Youth Commission

At its regular February 15 meeting, the Apex Park and Recreation District board appointed the district’s first-ever Youth Commission. The sixteen-member commission, comprised of teens from eighth through 11th grade, will meet monthly, develop goals for the year and advise staff on what is important to youth and teens who live and play in the area.

By serving on the commission in this first year, the teens will have the chance to participate in the overall planning of programs. In addition, during 2018 they’ll have a unique opportunity to be involved in activities surrounding the openings of five voter-approved bond projects, including the grand opening ceremony of the newly constructed Secrest Recreation Center opening in summer.

Other opportunities include allowing the teens to practice their skills in critical thinking, communication and creativity, while being introduced to local government and learning about the parks and recreation industry.

“While the contributions of the Youth Commission to our community are numerous, the benefits reaped by the young people offering their service can have a positive impact on them personally, now and into the future,” said Jim Whitfield, Apex PRD board president.

Youth who volunteer are more likely to do well in school, graduate and vote.

“Teens in the community say the benefits from serving in a voluntary role are learning to respect others, learning to be helpful and kind, learning to understand people who are different, developing leadership skills, becoming more patient and developing a better understanding of citizenship. This group is inspiring to me because the members are all passionate about serving the Apex community,” said JoAnn N. Gould, Apex PRD Deputy Director.

The goals of the Commission are to:

  • Discuss and suggest possible solutions about issues that young people face;
  • Discuss and provide input about programs that are offered to teens in the community;
  • Promote positive programs with peers, to promote healthy living, including overall physical, emotional and mental wellbeing;
  • Provide opportunities to develop youth as future leaders.

The Youth Commission serves in an advisory role to Apex PRD, and members are selected through an application and interview process facilitated by the professional staff liaison of the district.

Here’s some information about at the newly appointed Youth Commission members:

Maxwell Clifford, 8th Grade, North Arvada Middle School: Max has joined the commission because he is interested and excited to contribute to the community and be a voice for teenagers in the District. Max enjoys playing hockey and football and weight lifting. Max has volunteered his time at some local soup kitchens and looks forward to doing more volunteer work as part of his role on the commission.

Avery Gaurmer, 8th Grade, Moore Middle School: Avery is looking forward to helping others through volunteer work and the youth commission. Avery enjoys baseball, wrestling, rock climbing, reading and video games. Prior to moving to the area, Avery was a part of a volunteer leadership club in his former community where he had the opportunity to volunteer his time in various capacities.

Cameron Lewallen, 8th Grade, Wayne Carle Middle School: Cameron has recently moved to the area and sees the commission as an opportunity for him to learn more about the community and be a more active citizen. Cameron enjoys making music (he writes his own rap with a friend) as well as playing basketball and hockey. At his last school, Cameron has a part of the Beta Club where he volunteered his time and helped teach younger kids how to play hockey.

Charlie O’Brien, 8th Grade, Excel Academy: Charlie has been a longtime participant of Apex programs including swimming lessons, youth programming, sports and events which is why he is excited to be a part of the first ever youth commission. Charlie enjoys playing lacrosse, soccer, golf and skiing. He also enjoys reading and playing video games. Charlie participated in the Apex Counselor in Training Program last summer and has completed several volunteer duties including handing out water and making blankets for Hope House.

Future Ward, 8th Grade, Connections Learning Academy: Future is excited to be more active and share her ideas for her community through her work on the youth commission. Future enjoys reading, running, cooking and crafts. Future also has a love for animals and has worked with Pawsitive Connections, a therapeutic dog training program for Colorado at-risk youth.

Peyton Glenn, 9th grade, Arvada West High School: Peyton is excited to join the youth commission, so she can collaborate with a peer team and provide positive changes to youth programming within the District. Peyton is involved in the performing arts. She is a pianist, singer and guitar player. She also plays basketball and enjoys being in the outdoors. Peyton was involved in the National Junior Honor Society and the Standley Lake Public Library reading program as well as other various volunteer opportunities in Arvada.

Grant Oltrogee, 9th Grade, Arvada West High School: Through his work with the commission, Grant is hoping to gain a better understanding of how the District works and hopes to have more input on programs and services being offered to youth in the community. Grant enjoys outdoor activities including hunting and fishing. He also plays golf and baseball. Grant has volunteered with the Special Olympics Tennis Program for the past 3 years and has also volunteered with the Denver Rescue Mission.

Takaji St. Pierre, 9th Grade, Arvada West High School: Takaji has been a lifelong participant in recreation activities and sports and views his work on the youth commission as a way to continue his involvement. Takaji enjoys playing hockey and baseball as well as watching a variety of other sports. He is also fluent in Japanese. Takaji has been a volunteer hockey coach for younger children and has assisted with Japanese fundraising activities at his school.

Annamarie Covington, 10th Grade, Arvada West High School: Annamarie is excited to join the commission, so she can represent her age group and have a larger impact on her community. Annamarie enjoys reading and swimming and is an active member of the Family Career Community Leaders of America. Annamarie volunteers her time at the Standley Lake Library and has served on the Teen Advisory Board for the last four years.

Levi DeGroot, 10th Grade, Arvada West High School: Levi is looking forward to volunteering and getting more active in the community through work on the youth commission. Levi enjoys playing basketball and is also involved with a youth group and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Levi has participated in various volunteer activities including work with Jefferson County Open Space as well as projects for his church and the Children’s ministry.

Kian Lamer, 10th Grade, Ralston Valley Senior High School: Kian is new to the Arvada area and has joined the commission because he’s hoping to get more involved and share his ideas to better the community. Kian enjoys running, playing sports and skiing. He is also interested in technology and programming serving on his technology committee at his last school.

Noah Loveland, 10th Grade, Arvada West High School: Noah is interested in doing more volunteer work within his community and is interested in providing feedback on future programs that can make the community a better place. Noah enjoys playing baseball and basketball and likes video games. Through his work on the commission Noah hopes to have the opportunity to do more volunteer work District-wide.

Regan Parish, 10th Grade, Ralston Valley High School: Regan joined the commission to improve her leadership skills and to be a part of a larger cause to improve her community. Regan enjoys playing volleyball and tennis and plays the violin, piano, and ukulele. Regan has volunteered her time in many capacities including the Jeffco Action Center Back-to-School Drive, Stanley Lake Library as well as playing in several charity concerts.

Ethan Polacsek, 10th Grade, Ralston Valley High School: Ethan is looking forward to giving back to his community and improving his leadership skills through his work on the Youth Commission. Ethan is the assistant captain for both the Arvada Hockey Association and the Ralston Valley Jr. Varsity team he plays for. Ethan has been a part of the National Junior Honor Society and has done community service at a few local elementary schools. This past year, Ethan also volunteered with Jefferson County Open Space where he worked on the Dakota Ridge Trail Construction Project.

Garrett Gaurmer, 11th Grade, Pomona High School: Garrett is looking forward to working with other teens from across the community with his work on the youth commission. Garrett enjoys swimming, slacklining and BMX when he’s not busy with school work. Like his brother, Garrett also served in a Leadership Club prior to moving to the Arvada area and he looks forward to continuing his volunteer work and increasing his leadership skills with the commission.

Mallory Spencer, 11th Grade, Ralston Valley High School: Through her work on the commission, Mallory is interested in gaining experience in designing projects and organizing events. She also feels this opportunity will give her more leadership opportunities and will allow her to create positive changes in her community. Mallory enjoys playing volleyball for her club team. She also participates in choir and piano as well as Spanish. Mallory was a part of the National Junior Honor Society and has volunteered at several events including 5K/10Ks, clothing drives and tutoring.