Amanda Weisbrod

Role models can be as fictional as a super strong, colorful-spandex-wearing superhero, or as visceral as a celebrity, athlete or police officer. It all depends on the person looking up.

Elgin’s new student councilor, Dawson Larman, is lucky enough to have his hero right at home.

“My dad is definitely my role model,” he said. “I’ve always seen him trying to do his best with everything he does, and that makes me want to be a better person.”

The Elgin City Council swore in Larman, 16, as student councilor at its regular meeting Feb. 12 after accepting his application with a unanimous vote. Larman, son of Elgin’s public works director, Dan Larman, said he finds inspiration for his own community involvement through his father’s work ethic.

“I’m trying to give back to my dad and follow in his footsteps of being a productive member of the community,” he said. “I don’t want to sit back and watch progress happen. I want to be a part of that change.”

Dan, who has worked for the City of Elgin for nine years, said all of his children, including his two daughters, Maddie, 14, and Maycie, 12, are active and involved with both school and their community. He has repeated one tried-and-true piece of wisdom to the three of them over the years.

“You can talk about it, or you can be about it, which means you can be a part of the problem or you can be a part of the solution, and that’s with life in general,” he said. “Dawson and my daughters, their mom — all of us — have been involved in the annual Elgin clean-up day every year since it started. I couldn’t be more proud of all my kids.”

The Elgin High School junior is a center and defensive end on the football team, a post on the basketball team, and a member of the calypso band, choir, pep band and school band. He also has a part-time job at a local restaurant in Elgin during the school year and plays bass guitar in his church’s band. While the student councilor already has a lot on his plate, he’s using his extracurricular involvement to his advantage in his new role as liaison between the city council and the school district.

“I plan on connecting the city council and the school district by not only delivering the sports activities and club events that are going on to the council, but also the financial side of the school district with grants and scholarships that are being offered,” he said. “The part I’m most excited about is to give back to the community, and understanding how the council works is going to be really cool for me to see.”

Although Larman was the only applicant for the student councilor position, Elgin Mayor Allan Duffy said he is confident the EHS junior would do a great job because of his work as a lifeguard at the Elgin Community Center pool in the summertime.

“Larman is very dedicated to his community and wants to learn what’s going on,” he said. “The council was impressed that he wants to get even more involved.”

Last summer was Larman’s first as a lifeguard, and he said he’s “definitely” doing it again this coming season because he sees it as a way to be a positive role model for the young kids of Elgin.

“I feel like if I can set a good example for them by being an older kid they can look up to, it’s another way to reach out to the youth to get them involved in their community,” he said.

Larman said he applied for the position of student councilor because it was an opportunity to lead kids his age and younger toward more involvement with making the City of Elgin an even better place to live. This way, he can be a role model for others, just like his father is for him.

“I love serving my community and I love giving back to people,” he said. “I wanted to influence the teens at my school and grades below me to take that initiative and be a part of the change for the future.”