Boy Scouts learn about town politics at council meeting

    Troop 33 members AJ Hutchins, Bran Schiffman, Gary Wright, and Lucas Hutchins lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the Town Council Meeting on Dec. 12. All four are there for a merit badge in communications. Staff Photo/Adam Bass
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    Most children spend their Monday nights doing homework or spending time with friends or family.

    For Boy Scouts Brennon Schifman, Gary Wright and AJ and Lucas Hutchins of Troop 33, they spent their weeknight at Town Hall learning about their local government.

    The four friends attended a Town Council meeting on Dec. 12 as part of a requirement to earn a communications merit badge. Their goal for the evening was to learn about town government and understand how it functions.

    Council President Justin Pare was surprised to see the Boy Scouts attend the meeting, but welcomed them regardless. He even gave them the honor of leading the council in the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Schifman, 17, said he enjoyed the council meeting, and that it offered a different perspective of politics than what he was used to seeing on national television.

    “I enjoyed that the council took their time to explain things to us,” Schifman said. “They also had civil conversations. There’s no vitriol that I could see compared to what’s going on nationally.”

    While he does not consider himself deeply knowledgeable about politics, Schifman felt that he and his generation was the most active and engaged in national and local politics. He said the reason for this interest came from experiences that affected his school, namely the rise in violent incidents across the United States.

    “It depends on the peers, but a lot of the kids I know on the high school level are very involved and knowledgeable enough to vote on issues that are talked about and what elections are being discussed,” he said. “My parents often comment that my generation cares a lot more about politics than they did.”

    While Schifman enjoyed listening to topics such as the upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2024, AJ Hutchins, 15, said he was most interested in the upcoming elections in April. Hutchins said he wants to be able to vote as soon as possible and is looking at proposals by politicians to lower the voting age to 16.

    “I remember reading about how they are trying to do that in Boston,” Hutchins said. “Maybe there are some politicians here that would consider this proposal.”

    Wright, 14, said he was most curious about who would pull nomination papers in January to run for Town Council. Compared to his colleagues, Wright said he was not as involved in politics, but did find elections to be, as he describes it, “very cool.”

    “I want to know who runs,” he said. “I want to know what issues they are running on and what they will do for the town.”