PUSD and Pleasanton city staff partner for Youth in Government Day


Zaynah shah

Presenting to the student attendees, Julian Mireles speaks in the Firehouse Theater explaining the schedule for the day.

Zaynah Shah, AVT Editor

In a collaboration between the City of Pleasanton and the Pleasanton Unified School District, Youth in Government Day was held on Thursday, Mar. 31. The goal of the event was for students to learn about the inner workings of their city at the professional level.

“Youth in Government Day is a day where staff in both our largest public agencies, the City of Pleasanton and the Pleasanton Unified School District, provide their time to educate our young professionals on what they do, and how to get involved with their community,” said Pleasanton Library and Recreation Coordinator Julian Mireles.

Student attendees were set to shadow two different city professionals throughout the day, spending two hours with each. Larissa Seto, an assistant city attorney, spent the day as a role model with the intent to clear up assumptions regarding what really occurs in the city’s legal department.

“I’ll have a chance to show these kids some of the issues that affect their daily lives, whether it’s the First Amendment and things like racial equity protests, or things such as what happens when one is at a traffic stop. I hope to show the students that shadow me today that there’s an opportunity for a lot of different jobs at a city level,” said Seto.

City officials meet with their student shadows and provide a summary of the day before taking off. (Zaynah Shah)

As an event catered towards the city’s teens, the Pleasanton Youth Commission played a key role in facilitating the day’s activities. While having worked to address formal matters surrounding youth, the Public Policy subcommittee takes the responsibility of organizing the technical details in this annual event.

“Working as a subcommittee, we were able to hold informational meetings and get the marketing materials out for the public to see. Once we got enough sign-ups, we had to match up each applicant with their corresponding city official or employee and finalize who will take them around the city,” said Kristina Costanzo (‘22), Vice Chair of the Youth Commision.

When the pandemic hit, Youth in Government Day was canceled for safety precautions, and city efforts were moved elsewhere. The following year, the event was held online where city officials gave short presentations to their small audience. With the loosening restrictions, Mireles was excited to finally host the annual event in-person.

“Our expected turnout was 50 applicants and today we had a total of 45 participating students. The full total student participation is 48 which includes three Pleasanton Youth Commissioners. The success in this event is not solely based on the amount of students that participate, but out of what they are able to learn,” said Mireles.

Hoping to better understand the inner workings of Pleasanton’s local government, Anika Parkhi (‘24) observed city attorney Dan Sodergren and city engineer Steve Kirkpatrick. Throughout the day, she was able to discuss the social and political issues facing the city, and receive hands-on experience within a local building site.

Students who applied in the month prior to the event were able to skip school, and were gathered in the Firehouse Arts Center to begin their day. (Zaynah Shah)

“I believe that my experience from Youth in Government Day was really insightful and instrumental in helping me narrow down my choices for career paths. I learned exactly how much thought and effort goes into each of the city’s decisions, and that everything is precisely planned to ensure the city can continue operating smoothly,” said Parkhi.

Throughout the event, guest speakers were invited to share their experiences working in the city, as well as the wisdom that they wished to impart on the attendees. PUSD Superintendent Dr. David Haglund told of his hopes to inspire the new generation of students to pursue their dreams and follow what they believe is morally right.

“You’re not allowed to dislike something unless you can do something about it. I want every student to go on and make the world a better place in the way that makes the most sense to them. Take the passion, invest time over time and get involved in a local government or school district. Keep being curious, keep being passionate, keep following opportunities, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” said Haglund.

To find out how to get involved in Pleasanton, more information can be found at the city website.