Sabrina Thompson, The Observer

In a recent report by The Observer, students from Elgin were highlighted for winning awards from the Oregon Mayors Association. In addition to these two students, two others from North Powder were awarded for their ideas in the annual “If I were mayor, I would…” contest.

Ryleigh Phillips, a sixth-grade student, won first place in the middle school division. Moziss Nesser, an 11th-grader, won second place in the high school division.

The contest, in which students create projects that share what they would do if they were the mayor of their town, is divided into three entry categories: fourth- and fifth-grade students submitted posters, sixth- through eighth-graders submitted essays, and those in ninth through 12th grade submitted digital media projects such as PowerPoint presentations and videos. First-place winners received an Apple iPad Air, and second-place winners were given a Kindle Paperwhite.

According to a press release from OMA, the competition begins with a local contest conducted by mayors in their cities. The first-place winners of the local contests are entered in the state-level
competition in the spring and reviewed by members of the OMA Judging Committee. Sixteen cities participated in this year’s contest at the local level, with 24 entries being forwarded to the state-level competition. Phillips’ and Nesser’s submissions were chosen out of these to receive recognition.

Phillips wrote her essay as if she had been elected as mayor and in it detailed plans for maintaining and establishing better safety within the city, with a new police force and updated traffic signs and sidewalks. Phillips also shared plans to keep the city looking nice and bring more entertainment to the area by rebuilding the theater and keeping the city’s library open and running smoothly.

“I will try to be the best mayor that I can, and I will try to please most people,” Phillips concluded the essay.

Nesser’s PowerPoint presentation was about how he would improve the city if he were mayor. Supporting the local FFA chapter and at the same time creating a more beautiful town, Nesser would purchase flower baskets sold by the chapter to put around town. The presentation also included ideas about activities that could be added to the Huckleberry Festival and plans for a clean-up week every month and movie nights.

The contest gave students an opportunity to learn about the duties and responsibilities of their local government official, and look into how they might handle that role.