Stress on teens is main concern for new member of youth agency
“I do feel like being a teen in this day and age is very stressful,” Peter Gutstein told the Board of Selectmen. “... I hope to alleviate some of that stress on the teens of Ridgefield.”
Gutstein, a 16-year-old junior at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, was named to the Youth Commission by the selectmen at their Sept. 26 meeting.
“People don’t show it on the outside, but just the stress of looming college applications,” he told the selectman. “Is the stress felt by everyone? I believe so, yes,” he said. “There’s so much pressure put on you to do everything to buff that resume … The competition to get into school is really the main pressure.”
In a letter, he said he’d lived in Ridgefield since moving to town with his family at age one.
“Attending school outside of Ridgefield has put me in the position of being a bit of a cheerleader for my town,” he wrote to the selectmen. “I think I’ve done a good job selling it. My friends have come to appreciate how great our town is and most often want to come here over New Canaan or Fairfield.”
Among Gutstein’s extracurricular activities are studying karate at the SDSS Martial Arts Center in RIdgefield — he’s earned a black belt and is an assistant teacher working with younger kids — and volunteer at the Woodcock Nature Center, where he’s been a counselor-in-training and an animal care assistant.
The 16-member Youth Commission includes youth as well as adult members. Selectman Steve Zemo said he thought it would be good to have a private school student on the Youth Commission, since the youth members generally all go to Ridgefield public schools.
At the meeting, two audience members — Macklin Reid of Great Hill Road and John Katz, a Planning and Zoning Commission member — spoke up to tell Gutstein that the question of what college a young person attends is not nearly so momentous as it is often made to seem.
The selectmen voted 4 to 0 to put Gutstein on the Youth Commission, and asked him try to recruit more students to join it.
“Make sure you tell people there are vacancies,” Zemo told the new Youth Commission member.