GAMBER — One 17-year-old student in the county has the governor's ear.
While visiting high schools across the state, Amy Hill listens to the concerns of her peers and lets Gov. William Donald Schaefer know just what gripes Maryland teen-agers.
The 16-year-old Liberty High School senior chairs the governor's Youth Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission. A member of the commission since its inception two years ago, Amy said she brings experience and youthful perspective to the job of chairman.
She is no stranger tothe governor's staff. After attending the state's first Youth Summitin 1989, she represented "the needs and concerns of her generation" by coordinating Carroll County's two summits in 1990 and 1991.
"She is a dynamite kid," said Melody Ryan, state public information officer. "She is one of those rare, articulate people who is both smart and pleasant."
Amy, the daughter of Judy and Daniel Hill, didn't idle away hours this summer. Between working as a lifeguard and helpingneedy families with home repairs through Camp Hope in Frostburg, shemet with the commission for the first time as its chairman last month.
Already, she has started on the panel's latest project: findingfun options for teen-agers tempted to use drugs or alcohol. She saidinvolvement in sports, recreation and education activities will stemthe flood of substance abuse.
"Boredom promotes substance abuse,"she said. "If kids have something to do, they won't turn to drugs oralcohol."
Over and over, during her state travels, she hears "nothing to do" and "nowhere to go" complaints from teens. Frequently, those complaints are justified, she said.
"I have seen places where there really is nothing for kids," she said. "One school was even considering cutting its sports programs to save money."
For a girl who plays two varsity sports and is president of Liberty's Student Government Association, boredom is a difficult concept to understand. Shehas made it her mission to tackle that problem and offer some solutions.
"Kids have to learn to create their own fun," she said. "Theydon't need a mass media event every weekend to keep them occupied."
By working with what's available in each county, commission representatives are compiling a fun list. The lists will detail available public and commercial entertainment, with comments and"ratings" from teens. Amy hopes to turn the lists into booklets for distribution in high schools.
The representatives also are asking teens for ideas on how to have fun alone or with friends and family. They have received some clever replies, she said. Suggestions include getting togetherwith favorite records to stage a lip sync contest or playing marathon Monopoly.
"You can only go to the movies so many times, and shopping centers don't want crowds of teens," she said. "We need to find alternatives."
She also would like to ask Carroll's county commissioners about the feasibility of keeping area parks open later in the evenings.
"Parks are the biggest facilities most counties have," she said. "Why not let teens use them a little past regular hours?"
If that idea doesn't pan out, she plans to look at other options, she said.
"Little by little, we can make a difference," she said.
Although all this experience might bode well for a career in politics, Amy has always had her heart set on medicine. If she stays in Maryland for college, she plans to continue working with the commission.