LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield High School junior Teanne Alfama Polanco is committed to making a difference in Boston, Lynnfield and beyond.
Teanne, who lives in Dorchester, was appointed to the city of Boston’s Mayor’s Youth Council in September. She is one of 35 students enrolled in the school system’s METCO program.
“As the first Mayor’s Youth Council in the nation, it has spurred cities across the nation, and even internationally, to examine how they include youth in local government,” Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey stated on the city’s website. “The council is a group of high school students that come from every neighborhood in the city. They are charged with representing their peers, community members and youth across the city. They work with the Mayor’s Office, community leaders and city officials. The goal of the program is to find and put in place positive solutions through civic engagement and project management.”
Teanne recalled that METCO Director Curtis Blyden mentioned the Mayor’s Youth Council to her last spring while she was serving on A Healthy Lynnfield’s Youth Council at LHS.
“Mr. Blyden said I should apply,” said Teanne. “After getting involved with A Healthy Lynnfield, I thought it would be pretty cool to join and I decided to go through the whole process. I turned in an application on a Google Form, and the city sent me a Zoom link over the summer. I talked about my experiences and why I should serve on the Youth Council. I was appointed in early September.”
Blyden told the School Committee during an Oct. 12 meeting that getting appointed to the Mayor’s Youth Council was an incredibly competitive process.
“The competition was very stiff, and she was one of 85 students selected,” said Blyden. “Teanne had to compete against not only students attending Boston Public Schools, but also students attending charter schools and the 33 districts that participate in the METCO program. It’s incredible.”
Teanne attended an in-person opening ceremony for the Mayor’s Youth Council in late September. She said the council’s first meeting was held on Zoom earlier this month.
“We discussed what we want to bring to Boston,” said Teanne.
Teanne said the Mayor’s Youth Council has been broken into different subcommittees, and she is serving on the Public Peace Group. She said the group and the Mayor’s Youth Council as a whole are looking to raise awareness about gun violence and mental health.
“Mental health is not really talked about in Boston,” said Teanne. “I think raising awareness about it will help students who are struggling in school and at home. I want those students to get the answers and support that they need.”
Blyden told the Villager that Teanne “has the potential to do great things in the community.”
“I am really proud of Teanne,” said Blyden. “After she found out about the Mayor’s Youth Council, it was something she set her eyes on. Teanne’s appointment to the Mayor’s Youth Council is a testament to her character and work ethic.”
Teanne has been working to make a positive impact in Lynnfield in addition to Boston. She got involved with A Healthy Lynnfield’s Youth Council during her sophomore year.
“I really enjoy serving on A Healthy Lynnfield’s Youth Council,” said Teanne. “It’s great how everyone comes together and it’s a safe place.”
Teanne said she got involved with A Healthy Lynnfield because she was concerned about students’ mental health as well as vaping.
“Vaping is a big thing in Lynnfield, and I would like to help people who vape quit,” said Teanne. “I want to raise awareness about mental health as well. I want more students to get involved with A Healthy Lynnfield. We had a lot of people join A Healthy Lynnfield this year, and I hope more students join in the future.”
Teanne is also suiting up for the high school’s JV volleyball team.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Teanne.
Teanne has been enrolled in the METCO program since she was in kindergarten. She has enjoyed going to school in Lynnfield for the past 11 years even though she has a demanding schedule.
“I get up at 5:10 a.m. and I get to the bus stop at 6 a.m.,” said Teanne. “The bus picks us up around 6:20 a.m. and we get to the high school at 7:10 a.m. I get home at 7 or 8 p.m. I have to get ready for bed and have to do homework on top of that. It’s a lot to tackle.”
Blyden said he is incredibly proud of Teanne’s growth over the last several years.
“I have known Teanne since she was in seventh grade, and I am so proud of her growth as a student and as a leader in the community,” said Blyden. “She is self-driven and has worked to create opportunities for herself outside of the classroom and in our community. She has been a trailblazer for many of the girls in our program. The work she does with A Healthy Lynnfield really inspired our freshmen to get involved with the substance use prevention coalition. She also got some of the freshmen to play volleyball with her.
“She is very humble. The community should be incredibly proud of Teanne’s growth as a leader and as a student.”
School Committee Vice Chairwoman Stacy Dahlstedt echoed Blyden’s sentiment during last week’s meeting.
“Teanne’s appointment to the Mayor’s Youth Council is a phenomenal accomplishment,” said Dahlstedt. “It’s wonderful.”