Students teachers and administrators from Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union had the opportunity to meet virtually with Lt. Gov. Molly Gray Wednesday to discuss the inner workings of politics.
Participating via Zoom, Supervisory Union teacher Emma Holcomb and third- and fourth-grade students from Bakersfield, Berkshire, Enosburg, Montgomery, Richford and Sheldon elementary schools met on zoom with the lieutenant governor. Gray asked students what they would do if they were in her seat.
Jacob, a student from Northeast Supervisory Union Virtual Academy, stated that he would like, “to make more electric car charging stations…and better internet for people in more rural places.”
Kayah, another Northeast Supervisory Union Virtual Academy student, said that, “everyone should have to know about Black Lives Matter.”
Mason, also of Northeast Supervisory Union Virtual Academy, expressed the need for, “better mental health help for kids.”
The event is part of a bi-weekly virtual program — launched in February — that aims to connect Vermont classrooms and students with the state government and the legislative process. All third- and fourth-graders from the FNESU virtual learning academy were invited to attend, and 26 total students — between two classes — joined the zoom conference.
As part of the program, the students met with Gray in advance of the 1 p.m. convening of the Vermont Senate, over which the lieutenant governor presides from the Senate Chamber. Due to the pandemic, senators join virtually.
Gray recognized the students during the proceedings while they watched the live session via YouTube.
“These students are our future and I’m deeply inspired by their interest in current events and the inner-workings of state government,” Gray said. “I hope these students feel that our Vermont State House is as much theirs as it is elected officials’ and advocates’. I also hope that as our future leaders, they feel government is accessible and participation is possible.”
Holcomb says that being able to share their passion with others is a great experience for the students.
“Civics are very important to me personally and as an educator, I am very pleased to be able to help connect students to their state government and vice-versa,” she says. “Allowing students to share their ideas and see where the future of Vermont is going gives me hope.”
“When asked what they would do as lieutenant governor, I was deeply moved to learn of their priorities of reliable rural broadband and dismantling systemic racism, among other urgent issues facing our communities” Gray added.
Republican Franklin County Sens. Cory Parent and Randy Brock were invited to attend, and were able to take questions from the students as well.
“I’m thankful that Lt. Gov. Gray has found new innovative ways to keep the tradition of having an open State House for Vermonters of all ages,” said Parent.
Brock added, “It’s never too early for kids to learn how government works. They seemed to have fun and so did I.”
The “Lt. Governor for a Day” program will continue every other Wednesday from roughly 12 to 2 p.m. throughout the 2021 legislative session.