leads fellow students by example
West Linn High School sophomore Annamika Konkola is making sure her peers have a say in the governmental decisions that will impact them.
The 15-year-old is the chair of the West Linn Youth Advisory Council, where she has spearheaded recent efforts to improve communications with the West Linn city government and submitted comments to the Oregon Department of Transportation outlining how tolling on I-205 could impact youth in the community.
Last year, before she was chair of the council, she also helped with the group’s efforts to destigmatize talking about mental health, working with another student-led organization called Lines for Life.
“The main reason I was first interested in the YAC was it gives an outlet or an opportunity for youth to have a voice in local city government, which is a lot of times the most direct way we can make a change in our communities that we are wanting to see,” she said.
Konkola was nominated as West Linn’s Amazing Kid by interim Mayor Rory Bialostosky, who serves as the City Council liaison to the Youth Advisory Council. He said Konkola was a passionate advocate for her fellow students and the things they care about.
Danielle Choi, the city staff liaison to the YAC, agreed. “Annamika is hard-working, creative, adaptable and genuinely committed to improving West Linn,” Choi said. “She did not come into this school year planning to run for chair of YAC, but her dedication impressed her peers, and she stepped up to the challenge without hesitation.
She’s a great example of what any group needs from leadership: She collaborates closely with others, is equitable, sensitive to the group’s needs and always willing to lead by example.”
The YAC is not Konkola’s first foray into city government. As a middle schooler, she joined the West Linn Public Library’s Teen Advisory Board.
From that first connection with the city, Konkola learned how impactful young people can be. With that in mind, Konkola tries to make the council as representative as possible for West Linn’s youth.
“Something to strive for is to have all voices represented as much as possible,” Konkola said. “I feel like that’s what this group is doing.” Through outreach with peers, Konkola and the council have better understood where they should focus their efforts.
That’s how they decided to work on communication between the city and students. Their conversations with peers taught them that many students don’t know what’s happening at the city government level.
“It’s important for the youth to connect with the city to learn what’s happening,” she said. Konkola also noted how great it is to see young people becoming more engaged with what’s happening in their communities and worldwide.
In addition to chairing the Youth Advisory Council, Konkola is an active member of Pamplin Media Group’s Student Writers Advisory Group, publicist of the West Linn High School Key Club, a member of her school’s Model United Nations and Mock Trial team, and a violin player in the orchestra. She also remains active with the West Linn library, where she volunteers to help with shelving on the weekends.