Council Celebrates and Supports Youth Activities in Mayor Davis’ Last Meeting with the Gavel

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Mayor Gleam Davis’ term as mayor ended on a series of light notes that highlighted the city’s youth and school programs in both the public and private schools.

After public comment, Councilmember Lana Negrete read a commendation to the Santa Monica High School marching band for its legacy of success representing the city nationally and in recent competitions. 

“The Santa Monica marching band is an integral part of American culture,” Negrete read from the commendation. “The Samohi marching band has had a historic season,” she continued before reading off a list of local, statewide and even national competitions the band competed in and won this year.

The celebratory mood was evident and some of the tension between Councilmembers that has been omnipresent over the last year was pushed aside for the evening. As the band members came to the front for a group photo with the Council, Councilmember Phil Brock joked that he was expecting a concert and the group.

Second, Negrete offered a second commendation for the Saint Monica Mariner’s football program that despite being in its infancy and having a number of freshmen on the roster is heading to a championship game this Saturday.

“Thank you for the recognition of the team,” testified Coach Thomas Barnes. “This is awesome, the kids were really excited on the way here.”

The group picture also featured another moment of levity.

“Watch it, people might yell at you if you’re up here,” quipped Davis as Barnes settled into a spot on the dais for the group picture.

Screengrab from YouTube broadcast of City Council meeting of the Saint Monica Mariner’s Football team, 2023 CIF Southern Section Champions.

Later in the meeting, the Council allocated $15,000 from its discretionary funds to programs that would benefit Santa Monica youth.

$10,000 was allocated to the multi-faith nonprofit Church in Ocean Park for its “Girl Central,” “Rockstar Kids,” and “Peace Camp” programs. According to the staff report, “These programs seek to empower youth, particularly girls, children with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged youth, through a variety of programs that promote education, community building and leadership skills.”

$5,000 was also offered to support the Samohi co-ed wrestling team to defray the cost of tournaments and travel for the team members. Earlier in the evening members of the team testified to how important the team was for their personal growth as student athletes. Councilmembers also testified how proud they were to support a co-ed wrestling team.

Both motions passed unanimously, although Councilmember Oscar de la Torre recused himself from discussion for the second motion as his son is captain of the wrestling team.

Earlier in the day, it was elementary school students from Will Rogers who took to City Hall. 

Will Rogers Elementary Students gather at the entrance to City Hall.

The visit, organized as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) unit – How We Organize Ourselves, aimed to connect students with local government and make their learning experiences more tangible. 

“This field trip aligns with our commitment to creating globally-minded citizens who actively participate in their communities,” said Katja Alexander, a third-grade teacher at Rogers. “We wanted our students to see that their voices matter and that they have access to their local government.”

In addition to being part of something “adult” like meeting the mayor, the third graders had the chance to explore and have lunch at Tongva Park, which segues into their studies of the Indigenous people of California and gave them a chance to touch on Tongva Park’s name and its meaning. 

The parts of this article on the How We Organize Ourselves trip was written by Diana Bouchaaya, communications specialist for SMMUSD.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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