In a closing ceremony following three days of intensive, interactive workshops with local leaders, a group of 10 high school juniors from the Worcester Public Schools were presented with certificates in recognition of their work from Lt. Governor Timothy Murray and Worcester State College President Janelle Ashley, Thursday April 24, at the WSC campus.
The students participated in a hands-on civics camp with leaders in government, media, clergy and community activism for a “Worcester Rising Civic Camp,” Monday, April 21 through Thursday April 24. The event, organized by a group of college, civic and community leaders was designed to, “educate, encourage, and engage students in the civic process.”
The students participating in the camp are: Uarda Zaimi and Catherine Kinyua from South High Community School; Pablo Torres and Krystle O’Clair from North High School; Brendan Burke from Burncoat High School; Hannah Brown and Jelisa Adair from Doherty Memorial High School; Amber Le and Estella Merced from Worcester Technical High School and Nikko Vangjeni from Claremont Academy.
Students met with Congressman James P. McGovern, District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Colonel Marion McGovern of the Massachusetts State Police, WTAG Talk Show Host and Former Worcester Mayor and former Worcester State College Trustee Jordan Levy, in addition to leaders from the media, social activism and clergy.
“The governor and I talk a lot about civic engagement,” said Murray in his closing remarks, “It is critically important to our cities, towns and neighborhoods.” President Ashley noted that the event was an incubator for future leaders, “We may be hosting a future congressional representative, a future mayor, a future newspaper columnist, a future minister, a future radio talk show host and we are all proud to be part of your journey.”
Worcester State College Urban Studies Chair Steve Corey noted that the students lively debate impressed him. “From the start I was so impressed. You surprised me and surpassed all of my expectations.”
Students will continue their debate and discussion via a web page created by Worcester Assistant Director of Elections Joshua Meduna. In addition, each student will act as a civic engagement liaison at their respective high schools and work with Meduna on a voter registration drive.
In continuing their debate, Murray had some words of advice, “Try to always be constructive,” he said. “There is inherent disagreement in politics and that is part of the process, but it is easy to point out what is wrong. It is much harder to call people to action to solve problems.”
Colleen Kelly of the Worcester Public Schools, who worked with faculty on selection of the participating students, was proud of the outcome. “I can’t wait to call our superintendent of schools and principals and tell them what a great job all of you did,” she told the students.
Nikko Vangjeni said the camp was, “a great opportunity. We actually met elected officials and heard how they got where they are today and the sacrifices they made in the process and the decisions they made. It was priceless.” One student said it changed her career goals. “I want to work with abused children because of what Maureen McGovern said. I already work with kids and I know I want to help kids like she does when I get older.”
The planning committee consists of: Honorary Chair, John B. Anderson, former Worcester Mayor and City Councilor; Stephen G. Abraham, Register of Probate and Family Court; Steven H. Corey, Professor and Chair of Worcester State College Urban Studies Department; Colleen A. Kelly, Worcester Public Schools History and Social Science Liaison; Probate and Family Court Community Liaison Paul V. LaCava Director of Community and intergovernmental Relations for Third District Congressman James P. McGovern Gladys Rodriguez-Parker; Worcester City Clerk David J. Rushford and Worcester State College Executive Assistant to the President Judith A. St. Amand.
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