Political Guest Speakers at Local Government Breakfast Address HHS Students

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Congressman James McGovern discusses what politics mean to him with junior year students at the HHS Local Government Breakfast on Friday, March 23. Photo By Blair Guild

By Blair Guild
Along with some very special guest speakers, the junior class and local town government officials gathered together at the seventeenth annual Student Government Breakfast on Friday, March 23, in the Hopkinton High School cafeteria.  The special guests in attendance were Senator Karen Spilka, Representative Carolyn Dykema, and Congressman James McGovern.

Every year students in the junior class participate in a local government project.  This project assigns students a local government board in Hopkinton for which they have to attend meetings and gather information about from local newspapers.  Students are assigned a wide variety of committees, ranging from the Conservation Committee to the Board of Selectmen.

Students attend the Local Government Breakfast partially as a reward for their hard work, but also for the opportunity to hear politicians of many different levels speak.

After a few opening words from Principal Alyson Geary, history teacher Nancy Clark welcomed students and government officials.

“We’re very proud of the student government week breakfast” said Mrs. Clark. “It is truly an authentic learning experience.”

Massachusetts State Representative Carolyn Dykema followed Mrs. Clark with a speech addressing the students.  She spoke highly of students becoming aware of their local government at their age, especially with the technology in the world today.

“It is a pleasure to introduce to you how our government works. It’s great to speak to a generation that is so surrounded by political information,” she said.

Dykema closed her speech saying, “I would encourage you to vote. It is your voice and it is your power.”

Spilka enthusiastically said, “It’s such a pleasure to wake up for this each year. The Student Government Breakfast is a wonderful idea to engage students. Hopkinton really is a community that supports it’s children and it’s education.”

Spilka’s speech focused more on the vital role of the people in government. Her speech was inspiring and powerful, and the audience praised her in the hefty applause.

She concluded her speech with “Democracy depends upon participation. It only works when all of us participate. Our government, our legislation and our ideas are better with the input of the people.”

Congressman James McGovern preceded, giving the most empowering speech of the day. McGovern has come to the Local Government Breakfast since 1997 but his speech had particular passion behind it due to his recent arrest.

“It is important to figure out what you believe in and then fight for what you believe in.  If young people really believe they can make a difference– it’s a wonderful thing,” McGovern began. “You can not only change what happens in Hopkinton, but you can change what happens in the world. As civilized people we have an obligation to not be silenced. Whatever you believe in, get out there and fight for it.”

McGovern left the podium with the chants of a few particularly enthused students and handed the mic off to junior year student Leah Raczynski.

Leah was invited to speak at the event and spoke about how community service has altered her perspective on life.

“Service is most important because it teaches people to work together. Fulfilling the call to serve that everyone has is about using each opportunity to cooperate and improve the lives off all involved,” said Raczynski.

The final presentation, which was a surprise to many, was Max Vumbaca, senior, and Tyler Mikulis, junior, who presented a tribute to Mrs. Clark in her final year of teaching at Hopkinton High School.

“We are here to speak on the behalf of all the students who have learned from such an extraordinary teacher,” began Max.

“She taught everyone of us to think more critically and analytically. After we left her class we felt more fulfilled as historians and as students,” added Tyler.

The speech was full of clever jokes from Mrs. Clark’s AP United States History class as well as emotion.

“Mrs. Clark, we love you and thank you,” said Tyler and Max in conclusion.

Once the speeches were done, students were free to chat with the local government officials and some of the special political guests. Overall, the Local Government Breakfast has become a delightful and enriching experience for students and a wonderful opportunity for government officials to reach a young audience.

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