By Barry Smith
Photos by Brit Huckabay
Alabaster sat down with four members of the Alabaster Teen Council to talk about life in the fast lane. Jasmine Jones is a THS senior who currently serves as Miss THS, Miss CityFest, and the Executive President of both the SGA and THS Ambassadors. Phillip Martin, also a senior, serves as President of the National Honor Society and the Model UN as well as being elected Homecoming King this fall. Sophomore Kaitlyn Burnett is a THS Ambassador and cheerleader, and Sasha Gann, also a sophomore, serves as a THS Ambassador and plays the flute and piccolo in the THS marching band.
Alabaster Connection: What do you see as the biggest issues facing teenagers in Alabaster?
Jasmine Jones: Right now, as a senior, the biggest issue is the next step in life. I don’t think you’re ever fully prepared for it until you’re there. It’s stressful not knowing what the future holds. And AP classes, honors, and activities are piling up—it’s a lot of financial, mental, and emotional stress.
Phillip Martin: For me it’s living up to that person you imagined yourself to be. Being disciplined and making good grades. It’s being committed and consistent with everything you’re involved in—being a reliable person. Just being there.
Kaitlyn Burnett: It’s also really competitive in clubs when you’re pursuing leadership positions. There’s a lot of competition.
Sasha Gann: I agree. As an underclassman, you’re trying to keep up and step up, but you have to also respect the upperclassmen and know that we’ll get our turn.
AC: So how do you deal with the stress and pressure?
PM: I could write a book about it. You don’t really want people to see how stressed you are. I’ve outsourced my stress to the gym and my journal. I also have a habit tracker I use.
JJ: A lot of it is being disciplined and organized. I have a color-coded planner. It’s not pretty, but it keeps me going.
SG: You also have to have an escape from the stress. For me, it’s playing music and writing.
KB: I take extensive notes on my phone. And there’s such a feeling of accomplishment when I check something off the list.
AC: Do you have a support network? Who and why?
PM: I grew up in a military family. My dad, my mom, and my brother are all in the military. So there’s a little different mindset—if you want to do something then you need to do it yourself. But they have always supported me in whatever I want to do, and they help me prioritize. They’ve made me a hardworking person.
KB: My family is my support network. I always talk things out with my mom. And I’m a person who learns by teaching, so when I ‘m studying for a test, I’ll call my grandmother and teach her about the American Revolution or whatever the topic is. She always listens.
SG: I have my at-home support system with my mom, dad, and brother, and I have my at-school support system. Like the Teen Council, we all support each other.
JJ: My family has challenged me to chase my dreams, and I have so many teachers and people here at school that I rely on for guidance.
AC: All of you experienced disruption at school due to the pandemic. How did you navigate that?
JJ: Our sophomore year was Covid so it was weird. We were coming to school on alternating days.
PM: It affected the way I learn. I had always been an audible learner and then everything was written down. And adapting from working on your computer on your bed to coming back to the classroom was a big switch.
KB: Covid was sprung on us. We went to Spring Break and never came back. It was right before we were going to learn how to write our first research paper so I had to teach myself to write. I had to learn to teach myself a lot of things.
AC: How do you see your role on the Teen Council? What has it taught you?
SG: I joined this year, and everyone has been so nice. I look up to so many of the older people on Teen Council, and it’s made me want to be one of the people who others look up to. It’s helped me learn how to lead. I’m really shy, and it’s helped me to come out of my shell.
KB: It’s also my first year on Council. At the first meeting, everyone was so welcoming. I want to live up to the standard that they’ve set. I have learned how to collaborate more. I always wanted to do everything on my own because I wanted to control everything, but through our Team Building Day and other activities, I’ve learned it’s best to work with others.
PM: Academically, being on Council keeps me in check because we have to keep our grades up. I think without Teen Council, I wouldn’t be the leader I am now. It has changed my perspective of leadership. I always thought a leader did it all on their own. But through Teen Council, I’ve learned that communication and collaboration are the most important parts of being a leader.
JJ: My brother was very involved in all the Teen Council activities, so I knew when I got to THS, I wanted to be involved on Teen Council. It has helped me learn who I am as a person and helped me to figure out what I want to do in the future. I’ve enjoyed watching people grow and become a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s a really rewarding experience.
Applications for the 2023-2024 Teen Council open in January. Teen Council is open to rising freshman through rising seniors.