Daniel Toole Jr., a senior at Pilgrim High School, wanted his senior project on the legislative process to make a difference for future students, so with help from his mentor, Councilman Charles “CJ” Donovan, Toole had a resolution passed by the City Council to establish an online database of city employees willing to serve as mentors to high school seniors.
Toole has always had an interest in governments and how they operate, and knew he wanted that to be the focus of his senior project.
“I was interested in the legislative process and what a politician does,” said Toole.
So in September, he contacted Donovan and asked if he would be his mentor. Donovan agreed, but even he never imagined Toole would take the project as far as he did.
“I thought this was a great way to learn about city government, but he took it that next step to leave something behind for future students,” said Donovan.
Toole worked with Donovan to learn about the process of getting resolutions passed, followed some of the items Donovan was working on, and even attended a number of City Council and committee meetings over the course of his project.
But Toole wanted to do more and decided to help future high school seniors interested in government find mentors.
“People just have to go into the world and find someone willing to be a mentor. They can’t always find people,” said Toole.
On the other hand, Toole has heard of people dropping out as mentors because they didn’t fully understand what it would entail.
“It you tell people what’s going to happen, they will be more likely to stick with it and not drop out,” said Toole.
So he thought of a database that would include the names of people who work in different areas of city government willing to serve as mentors. The requirements would be explained to them, and students would have an easy way to contact professionals in the field to find mentors.
“The database on the website came out of talking about it. Creating a program to help people was always the idea,” said Toole.
With the help of Donovan, Toole spoke with different people within city government to get input and drafted the resolution. Donovan then introduced it to the City Council.
As part of his project, Toole spoke before the City Council to explain the resolution during the hearing.
“It was nerve-wracking,” he said.
But, on March 10, the resolution was approved and Mayor Scott Avedisian signed the resolution on March 13.
On Tuesday, Avedisian signed a ceremonial copy of the resolution to give to Toole.
“To have someone your age interested in what we do here is a big win for us,” said Avedisian. “To us, that’s really exciting.”
Avedisian added that he sees a lot of new projects come through, but it is not often that he sees the enthusiasm from people, especially young people.
“When we see someone take a real interest in the city and what we’re doing here, that keeps us interested,” he said.
Toole and Donovan now need to work with the City’s IT department to iron out the details and create the final database, but Toole knows it will be featured as a link on the city website. While drafting his legislation, Toole found some city employees and a few council members who were already willing to be included in the database.
So is Toole ready to run for office one day? Probably not.
“Maybe not a politician, but someone who works in the government,” said Toole when asked about his future aspirations. He does not yet know where he will attend school after graduation.