WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – They may only be in 5th grade, but students at Waterbury’s Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School are voting for governor. Kid Governor, that is. They’re also learning how democracy works.
“What it feels like to vote, how to help with other people’s problems in the community,” explained 5th grader Luna Rosario after she cast her vote.
“I like that kids actually get to have a voice in government,” said 5th grader Asah Lopes.
Every fall, as grown up politicians campaign for office, 5th graders across Connecticut put together their own platforms and shoot videos highlighting issues on which they will focus if elected.
“We had some students focus on getting school supplies for other students in need without them,” said 5th grader teacher Danielle Toussaint. “One student wanted to focus on pollution, specifically in Long Island Sound.”
Rotella chose its own nominee, Sarah Henderson, who focused on vaping.
“I chose that topic because a lot of people have been dying and I care about people’s health,” Henderson said.
She was not chosen as one of the state finalists, but seven kids were, and their videos are being watched by thousands of kids across the state. Whoever wins will be inaugurated by top state officials in Hartford.
“And that kicks off a year of them working with our staff at the Connecticut Democracy Center,” explained Brian Cofrancesco, the head of the Kid Governor program at the Connecticut Democracy Center. “To realize their 3 point platform, to speak with students to mobilize students and adults to really support the platform they’ve put together.”
Then, who knows? The hope is the love of democracy and public service starts here and keeps growing.
“Maybe their passion starts by they get Kid Governor and then they can build their process and then maybe one day they’ll be able to get President,” said Lopes.
Unlike grown-up voting, Kid Governor voting goes on for days, so we won’t know who won right away. Instead there will be a big announcement in about two weeks.
To learn more about Connecticut’s Kid Governor program, click here.