Sofia Caruso and Lilia Montiel say they are getting a better understanding of issues in Rancho Bernardo since joining the Rancho Bernardo Community Council in January as student representatives.
Both are 16-year-old juniors at Rancho Bernardo High School with a one-year term on the council.
Caruso, a lifelong Rancho Bernardan, said she enjoys how residents in the community come together on the council to organize events and talk about issues facing the community.
“It is really informative and not like I expected,” Caruso said. “I love going to the meetings and hearing people like City Councilmember Marni von Wilpert … and representatives from the police and fire department.”
Montiel said she had wanted to be a student representative since eighth grade when she attended an RB Community Council meeting to accept an award and saw teens among the members.
Last fall her mother saw the application notice in the Rancho Bernardo News Journal asking for high school juniors to apply.
“I was really excited and have found it so interesting to be a part of my community, relaying information from the high school to the community council and (vice versa) … I get to be part of something bigger.”
RB Community Council President Robin Kaufman said the group has had student representatives since 2015. She got the idea from the Rancho Peñas quitos Town Council, which had student members.
“I thought it was a good idea to have students representing that age group in the community, sharing their ideas, concerns and issues,” Kaufman said.
Only high school juniors who live in Rancho Bernardo can apply.
As for the current student members, Kaufman said, “We are enjoying them. They are very mature, give good reports and helped recruit teen volunteers for our last two events (holiday and Earth Day). They interact well with adults and are representing us. very well. ”
Caruso is the daughter of Joel Miller-Caruso and Keith Caruso. Montiel is the daughter of Andrea and Miguel Montiel.
“When I first saw the advertisement in the career center at school I thought it was a good opportunity to broaden my experiences because my previous ones were all school related,” Caruso said.
These activities include the Fight Against Hunger Club, That’s on Period, which collects menstrual products so they are available for free on campus; Blue Crew, which helps students prepare for high school; and Next Generation Politics, which hosts conversations on various political topics.
She is active with Friday Night Live / Safe Promise Club, which supports community events on campus, such as Red Ribbon Week to raise student awareness about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and vaping products, Caruso said. events during track and field meets.
Montiel said her family moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Rancho Bernardo when she was in second grade.
For the past 10 years she has studied applied martial arts. She is a fourth level junior black belt and is studying for her black belt, a process that requires passing six tests. She also works as an instructor for kids ages 3 to 13 at Swift Kick Martial Arts.
“When I was little, it was how to defend yourself, but now it is combat and what to do in a toe-to-toe fight,” Montiel said. (due to my size) than with grappling. ”
Since sixth grade Montiel said she has been in Best Buddies, a club that pairs students with developmental or intellectual disabilities with students without those challenges. She also competes in the pole vault on the varsity track and field team at school. Having grown up around horses , for several summers she has worked with trainers at horse training facilities and ranches since her career aspiration is to be an equine veterinarian.
Montiel said the community council award she received in eighth grade was to recognize her efforts to provide beds to children who do not have a bed and must sleep on the floor. She founded ZZZs 4 Kidz four years ago and has raised more than $ 15,000, enough to provide beds for 37 children in San Diego.
Both teens volunteered at the council’s recent Earth Day Fair in Rancho Bernardo by assisting with set-up and helping at the craft table where children were able to make bird feeders with pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed.
Caruso said while not yet on the council she also went to its holiday event last December.
“I met the mayor (Todd Gloria); that was pretty cool,” she said.
When asked what she would like teens to know about the council, Caruso said, “It is a very well informed group of people who are passionate about their community.”
“It is really a very interesting experience all people need to go through once to see the leaders in the community and know the topics,” she said. “I recommend they attend meetings … and be active participants in the community.”
“I am very grateful to have an opportunity to be part of the community that has been so great to me,” said Montiel. “Rancho Bernardo is a pleasure to live in, to grow up here … so I hope to be able to give back a little of what has been given to me. ”