Gov Team addresses City Council

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Gov Team addresses City Council

Simran Devidasani

Gov Team students prepare to speak while waiting for Oral Communications to start. Their presentation confirmation was made mid-Feb. Photo by Margaret Lin.

Senior Srinivasan Srikumar rose to the podium.

“Good evening Council Members,” Srikumar said. “We are the Monta Vista Government Team, and today we are here to present our proposal to revive Vallco.”

During an April 3 City Council meeting, Gov Team introduced a plan to rejuvenate Vallco Shopping Mall. Three speakers from Gov Team — Srikumar and seniors Dickson Tsai and Karishma Mehrotra — presented a PowerPoint on potential changes to the mall that would increase profit and commerce.

At the beginning of the second semester, Gov Team teacher Eric Otto introduced two projects: one in which the students would address issues in the local government and economy, and one which focused on the federal or state government. The majority of Gov Team members agreed that Vallco Shopping Mall’s “lack of traffic” was a serious and common issue, and decided to target the mall for their local project.

“The Government Team really is an interesting thing, because [the students] eventually forget that they’re meeting grade requirements,” Otto said. “They’re more interested in helping the community, so they choose issues that they feel can benefit the community.”

Their proposal was broken down into three major sections: grassroots marketing, new market views and entertainment.

According to surveys conducted by Gov Team’s marketing team, which used percentages in their grassroots marketing section, 44% of MVHS students visit Vallco Shopping Mall once a month and another 44% visit once every few months. The most common complaint from survey responders was that the mall lacked liveliness — students used phrases like “eyesore” and “ghost town” to describe the mall’s current atmosphere.

“At first, we were really skeptical, because in the past, anything that’s been done by high school students typically hasn’t been picked up by City Council or by anyone in the community,” Srikumar said. “I think it’s because with Vallco, people thought it was a lost cause, and [the fact that] someone was willing to pick it up really intrigued a lot of people.”

In order to energize Vallco Shopping Mall, Gov Team suggested introducing more brand-name retail stores such as American Eagle or Forever 21 as well as restaurants such as In-N-Out Burger and the Cheesecake Factory. Other amendments included offering live music and laser tag as recreational activities.

Srikumar emphasized the importance of attracting businesses by providing detailed demographics of Cupertino to prove why certain businesses would be suitable there.

The City Council responded enthusiastically to the proposition. Mayor Orrin Mahoney suggested that Gov Team meet with the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce to further discuss the plan. That meeting would be more intimate than the presentation to City Council and have a far less rigid structure. Gov Team Public Relations Manager senior Meg Murthy will be responsible for arranging the meeting.

“What we really tried to do with this project was actually get our hands dirty and implement things within the community, rather than just researching and not making much of an impact,” Murthy said.

Gov Team is also hoping to make an impact in different fields.

Their state-level project involves reform of the education system, particularly focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers, tenure, and financial aid. Gov Team expects to meet to discuss this proposal with Congressman Mike Honda in mid-May.