One of the most active, youngest, competitive, and most attractive—in my humble opinion—commissions in Cupertino has to be the Cupertino Teen Commission, a group of nine students from local middle schools and high schools whose goal is to create a more teen-friendly community for the youth in their area.
The requirements necessary in order to apply are simple: you must live in the 95014 ZIP code area and you must be at least an incoming 8th-grader or at maximum an incoming senior in high school.
The commission tries to welcome a diversity of ages and schools represented as it allows for a larger range of perspective and input. Each term lasts for two years in order to rotate a fresh crop of ideas and faces into the commission.
Every year, the commission has seen over 60 to 70 applicants competing for only three to five seats that go vacant as current terms expire. While it, of course, makes it that much more difficult to be selected to the Teen Commission, it also makes it that much more special to be selected.
When I first got the call telling me that I had been selected to join the Cupertino Teen Commission, I was ecstatic but also a little bit apprehensive. I knew I was joining a rather prestigious group of students, but I had no idea what to expect as, to be perfectly honest, I had applied to the Teen Commission unclear of its goals and consequent time commitment.
Now, ending my term in 2013, I can honestly say Teen Commission has been one of the greatest experiences in my life thus far and has helped me learn innumerous life lessons, but at the same time it has also been a time-consuming and sometimes stressful activity.
We meet every other Wednesday at 6:15, and the meeting usually lasts about two hours as we discuss agenda items in detail. As a sophomore in high school, I have sometimes found that juggling Teen Commission activities with a heavy course load is difficult to say the least.
In order to make a difference and contribute at the commission meetings, I have to not only be physically present but also mentally present, and sometimes, after a long day, that can be hard.
Also, we host various events, one almost every month, which requires additional meetings outside our designated Wednesday time. If applying for the Teen Commission, make sure to create the appropriate time in your schedule that the activities and projects require to be a success. After all, what’s the point of being on the Teen Commission if you can’t make a difference? No pressure, but keep in mind that there are 50 to 60 other students who badly want to take your spot at the round table, and a few tardy arrivals or a couple absences on your part could make that possible for them.
- To give you an idea of what all the Teen Commission does, in my years we have: organized and presented two workshops for YAC (Youth Advisory Council) Attack, which is an event attended by Teen Commissions in the greater Bay Area
- we organized a series of anti-tobacco public service announcements
- we presented at the California Parks and Recreation Conference
- we organized two senior center events
- we organized over 10 ‘events’ at the Teen Center
- we created promotional videos for the Teen Center
- we organized the Walk One Week program participated by 3,000 students
- we organized (with the Saratoga Youth Commission) a Pizza and Politics night where local election candidates discussed their platforms.
Planning all that from start to finish? Spreading the word, coordinating the details, and making sure it’s a success? Definitely not a cakewalk.
Each year as the selection process rolls around, the commission makes a list of qualities they want to see in a potential candidate. On this list are the generic characteristics of a youth leader including responsible, accountable, open-minded, and team-player, but the list also includes words that outline someone who knows how to have fun.
As much as the Teen Commission works and completes projects, we also know how to enjoy ourselves at meetings and events. On the Cupertino Teen Center’s Facebook page in the photo albums you can see the commission’s ‘family’ portraits at our Christmas meeting or the commission interacting and having fun at the CRPS conference.
Other perks include a Teen Commission sweatshirt, crewneck, or t-shirt at the start of each session as well as incredible snacks at each meeting.
In short, the Teen Commission is not something to be taken lightly. If named to the commission, remember that you are in fact representing Cupertino, and its teens through your actions and that you have a rather exclusive position in your community.
At the same time, remember to not look at it simply as a college application boost or a working environment but as a fun-loving, connection making, and extremely photogenic group of individuals.