Lower Oxford Twp. welcomes Murphy as its first junior supervisor
By Steven Hoffman
Gabrielle Murphy would like to pursue a career in politics, and she’s getting a close look at how government really works at the local level.
Murphy, a 17-year-old senior at Oxford Area High School, was sworn in as a junior member of Lower Oxford Township's Board of Supervisors in September. As a junior supervisor, Murphy will attend all the regular meetings of the township’s board of supervisors. She can actively participate in the meetings, but will not have a vote on any issues that are up for consideration by the elected supervisors. This is the first time that Lower Oxford has had a junior supervisor program.
Sara Laganelli, the township's secretary/treasurer, explained how Lower Oxford came to have its first junior supervisor.
“It was Gabrielle who approached us about it,” Laganelli explained. “She saw that Oxford Borough had a junior council person and the school board has a junior member. She wanted to know if Lower Oxford had a program.”
Murphy initially contacted the township in May, and it took some time for Lower Oxford officials to do the necessary research to develop an application process and to establish some guidelines for what a junior supervisor would do.
According to the guidelines established by Lower Oxford Township, juniors and seniors at Oxford Area High School who are both U.S. citizens and residents of the township are eligible to serve as junior supervisors. They must submit a written application and an essay explaining their interest in the position. The supervisors will then interview the candidates before making an appointment for a one-year term that generally coincides with the length of an academic year.
Murphy said that she wanted to be a junior supervisor because it is an opportunity to “encourage community involvement, create positive change in the community, and voice the opinions of residents in the community.”
She explained, “My first priority as junior supervisor is to encourage community involvement. I believe that all members of our community have a right to voice their opinion on public matters.”
Murphy said that she is looking forward to talking to township residents about their opinions and ideas, and then bringing some of those ideas to the board of supervisors.
“I’d like to see the community get more involved,” she said. “I’m very excited about serving as a junior supervisor.”
Murphy brings a wealth of experience to her new position. At Oxford Area High School, she participates in everything from the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) to Helping Hands to the National Honor Society. She has held a variety of leadership positions through the FBLA. She was the vice president of the Student Renaissance Club for two years. She is a member of the school's choral ensemble, the Tri-M Music Honor Society, concert band, marching band, and senior choir. She belongs to the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, and Spanish Honor Society. She also is a varsity football cheerleader, student council vice president, and a member of the LEOs Club. In the fall, Murphy will be attending Olivet Nazarene University.
A few weeks after her first meeting, Murphy learned a valuable lesson about serving in government—it's a lot more work than it might seem at first. On Sept. 28, Murphy was there as the Lower Oxford supervisors held a special meeting to approve an intergovernmental cooperation agreement with neighboring municipalities as they attempt to work through financial troubles being experienced by the Oxford Area Sewer Authority. It was an inside glimpse of how local government really works, and how important good local government can be to a community.
Murphy expressed her appreciation to all the township officials for providing this tremendous learning opportunity. She also said that she knew that Laganelli put a lot of work into launching the junior supervisor program.
Laganelli, meanwhile, credited Lower Oxford Township’s supervisors—chairman Ken Hershey, vice chairman Ron Kepler, and Joel Brown—with being willing to start a junior supervisor program as a way to help students in the township learn about local government.
“We have three great supervisors who said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Laganelli explained.