Youth Commissioners create gingerbread birdhouses, concoct wild stories

by Holly Hollman
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ATHENS-A local construction company sponsored a team building exercise for the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission, and the result was some unusual structures and wild stories.



The Youth Commission is for students in 10-12 grades from Athens High, Athens Bible, Lindsay Lane and home schooled in Athens. Students held this month’s meeting on Nov. 15 at the Athens Rec Center.

Youth Commissioners working on the birdhouses


Athens Handyman Service purchased gingerbread birdhouse kits so the students would learn to work together to complete a project and present their creations to others. Students were randomly placed on teams and had 45 minutes to complete their projects and stories.


Ten teams designed gingerbread birdhouses with a cardinal and had to work through getting supplies as needed and making the icing the right consistency to support the structure. When there were structural issues, students developed tragic stories such as a tornado destroying the birdhouse, the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk taking a bite out of the roof, or citizens holding a vampire Mayor Ronnie Marks captive in a City Hall birdhouse until he burned it down to escape on Christmas.


“This is my favorite activity with the Youth Commissioners,” said Mentor Jerome Malone. “They all did a great job and found a way to work together, and they learned things don’t always go as expected.”

First place was: was Emma Tarokh, Katie Lee Helums, Addison Simmons and Hannah Frasier



  • The first-place team was Emma Tarokh, Katie Lee Helums, Addison Simmons and Hannah Frasier. Their cardinal Hank had a difficult life and died. However, his spirit came back to a place that’s like Barbieland except it’s called Hankland, and he now lives in his dream birdhouse.


  • The second-place team story involved Jerome the cardinal who hired Athens Handyman to build him a birdhouse, but Handyman got sick, and called the Mayor’s Office for help. Mayor Marks and the Youth Commission Mentors arrived to build the house, but Mayor Marks started a snowball fight. Miss Holly dodged one, and the snowball damaged part of the roof. Jerome the cardinal said that was OK because they were all making memories.

  • The third-place team story was about an immigrant cardinal who moved here and took an American name, Chip. Chip the cardinal created his own birdhouse using chocolate chips in the design to go with his name. He included a decorative round window for the entrance.


Youth Commission meets each month from October through May. Students learn about local government’s role and their role to be engaged and informed citizens. They do community service projects, visit city departments and local agencies, and have their own podcast called “All in with Athens.”

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