(October 8th, 2019 -- Jersey City) Explore held its second annual Student Council election on Monday, October 7th, with guest speaker, Mayor of Guttenberg and Director of Operations at the HCST Frank J. Gargiulo Campus, Wayne Zitt.
After weeks of campaigning and preparing, 28 students from grades 6 through 8 shared speeches with the student body. 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students ran for Class Representative of their advisories while 8th graders vied for President and Vice President of the school. 8th grader Jonpierre Saitta and 7th grader Hana Minkin hosted the event.
Mayor Zitt addressed the students prior to the presentation of their speeches. He explained that entering politics was intimidating for him at first, but he embraced the challenge and it changed his life for the better.
Mayor Zitt also made sure to express to students that no matter the outcome of the election, they should all be proud and remain dedicated to their school. “If you aren’t elected today, that doesn’t mean it’s a loss. You are still a part of this family and you will still have a voice that you’ll just use in different ways and in different areas. These candidates here deserve a big round of applause for having the courage to take this on.”
6th graders Michael Bolognino, Sophia Bitton, and Marco Urgiles ran for Class Representative of Ms. Lauren Norcia’s advisory. Claudia Branco and Isabella Santini also ran for Class Representative for Ms. Heather Garrett’s advisory. Ms. Amy Garrett’s advisory candidates were Mikel Ellison, Treasure Mitchell, and Isabella Santin.
Marco Urgiles, Isabella Santini, and Isabella Santin were elected 6th grade Class Representatives.
7th grade Class Representative candidates included Mateo Echevarria, Ludwig Pahl, and Felix Puig Sepplalainen for Mr. Dunphy’s advisory. Maya Boguszewski and Mikail Oflaz ran for Ms. Cirillo’s advisory and Aidan Chapas, Melike Kunukc, and Almami Jobarteh faced off in Mr. Aziz’s advisory.
Felix Puig Sepplalainen and Aidan Chapas were both victorious. Maya Boguszewski and Mikail Oflaz tied and will be Co-Representatives of their advisories.
8th grader Kyra Cotto ran unopposed for Ms. Kettleman’s advisory class. Kavya Shah and Shakila Shaikh ran for Mary Nocia’s advisory. Candidates for Ms. Bermas’ advisory were Liam Desbrosses and Eva Ji. Kavya Shah and Eva Ji were elected for their advisories.
The 8th graders running for Vice President, Madison Chambers, Eva Ji, and Leenah Ramos, each delivered strong speeches outlining their best qualities. Another tie took place as Madison Chambers and Leenah Ramos were elected Co-Vice Presidents.
The race for President was a close one as Stephan Castellanos, Naphtali Dow, Andrea Gonzalez, and Uma Khadka each presented detailed plans for the future of Explore and the hopes they have to make their school even better. Each candidate’s personality shined as they shared small anecdotes about themselves and why they would be an excellent candidate.
After a schoolwide vote, Stephan Castellanos was elected President of the student body. “I really wasn’t expecting this to happen, but I am just so honored that a lot of people wanted me to be their President. I am sure the Student Council is going to do their best to make this a great school year and I am excited to lead them,” he shared.
Supervisor, social students teacher, and Student Council advisor Ms. Velazquez was proud of everyone involved in the election and is looking forward to meeting with the newly elected officials soon.
“When we started Student Council last year, I really had no idea how many students would want to get involved. At Explore Middle School, our student council is the voice of the student body. The grade level advisors and I witnessed our representatives develop into fair and open-minded leaders. They helped plan, organize, and execute a number of our activities and events as well as boost school spirit and problem solve. I look forward to another great year!”