(October 22nd, 2018–Jersey City, NJ) Explore Middle School held its 1st Student Council election on Friday, October 19th, which included a visit from Commissioner of Public Affairs for West New York and Town Administrator for Guttenberg, Mr. Cosmo Cirillo.
Supervisor and Social Studies teacher, Ms. Jamie Velazquez is leading the Student Council with 6th-grade advisor Ms. Cirillo, 7th-grade advisor Ms. Bermas, and 8th-grade advisors Ms. H. Garrett and Ms. L. Norcia. The election process began with students from every grade nominating peers from their advisory to serve as representatives. Students in the 8th-grade class were given the opportunity to also nominate classmates for school President and Vice President.
After weeks of campaigning that included discussions in advisory classes and hanging posters throughout the schools, candidates delivered speeches to the student body and staff on “election day”.
Before the speeches were given, Mr. Cosmo Cirillo, High Tech High School graduate, addressed the students and staff. Mr. Cirillo shared his journey in politics that started with an internship at the age of 16 for the town of West New York eventually leading him to a seat on the West New York Board of Education at 20. Cirillo then served as Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez from 2012 to 2014 and Senior Advisor to NJ Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto from 2014 to 2017. Today, he proudly serves as
Commissioner of Public Affairs for West New York and Town Administrator for Guttenberg.
Mr. Cirillo explained, “Public service is about putting others above yourself. The desire to help people. Government and politics offer an avenue for us to be able to do good for the people we serve.” He asked the audience to applaud for the candidates seated in front of them. He recognized the courage and vulnerability it takes to run for public office and celebrated the candidates’ willingness to serve their school community.
Commissioner Cirillo shared how he works closely with community organizations such as local schools, police departments, and recreation departments to ensure his communities continue to thrive.
Students asked questions ranging from Mr. Cirillo’s feelings on immigration to what keeps him motivated to stay involved. “It was a great experience to be able to talk to the students of Explore Middle School about public service and the importance of getting involved. They were an incredibly bright group and I have no doubt that our future is extremely bright.”
Immediately following the candidates’ speeches, the students voted for their appropriate representative and the Vice President and President positions. Later that day, Principal Krone announced the winners.
6th-grade representatives: Mikail Oflaz, Ms. Cirillo’s advisory, Felix SP, Mr. Dunphy’s advisory, Aidan Chapas, Mr. Aziz’s advisory.
7th-grade representatives: Uma Khadka, Ms. Bermas’s Advisory, Andrea Gonzalez, Ms. Benito’s advisory, Sara Khiri, Ms. M Norica’s advisory.
8th-grade representatives: Marisa Syed, Ms. H Garrett’s Advisory, Sasha Caines, Ms. L Norica’s Advisory, Maranda Robertson, Ms. A Garrett’s Advisor.
Principal Krone and Supervisor Velazquez named 8th grader Kimonye Mays Community Liaison.Myles Morales was voted Vice President. “When I heard my name announced I burst with joy. I am excited to be a member of such an important part of Explore. I am honored to be the 1st ever Vice President. I want to make sure that all students voices are heard.”
Samantha Rice was voted President. “Everyone in my advisory started screaming the minute my name was announced. I am so excited to be the 1st President ever at Explore Middle School and I am especially proud to be the first female President. I want this school year to be the most memorable for everyone from 6th to 8th grade. I will make sure we all continue to learn, have fun, and will be able to express ourselves,” Samantha stated.
The newly elected Student Council met on Monday. The first order of business was preparations for the upcoming Halloween celebrations. A list of tasks was divided amongst the representatives. The event will include a costume contest, karaoke, and dancing. The students spent time discussing a timeline, decorating for the event, collecting funds, and creating a welcoming and fun environment for everyone.
“I am excited to give the students the opportunity to have even more of a voice when it comes to their experiences. I am looking forward to working with the students, staff, and parents to continue making Explore a school we are all proud of,” Ms. Velazquez shared at the end of the meeting.
The student council plans to meet monthly with additional meetings for specifically occasions and events.