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Student Government Day in North Tonawanda

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

It was a day for students to step out the classroom and into the political arena. Last Tuesday, a handful of students learned first-hand about what it takes to be an elected official and the responsibilities they face. It’s all part of North Tonawanda’s annual student government day. 

This year about a dozen students shadowed City of North Tonawanda public officials doing everything from going to the DMV to sitting in for them at a Common Council meeting. 

This year North Tonawanda High School Student Alyssa Juliana sat in for Clerk Treasurer Matt Parish at the Common Council meeting. For Josh Pawlak, sitting in for Common Council President Eric Zadik was a unique experience calling the meeting to order and going through agenda items one by one. One of the most significant agenda items passed was promoting a firefighter to the rank of captain and authorizing the mayor’s office to submit a contract to the Canal Festival Board of Director to hold the event this year.

Tabled at the meeting was the question whether or not to approve an $805,000 bond for street repairs and the purchase of a new pumper. Members of the Common Council agreed it was more appropriate for elected officials to authorize a large amount of spending; especially since it involved taxpayer money. 

Getting to sit in for members of the common council was not easy. Each of the students had to go through an election and were voted into these slots by their peers. For many of the students it was a day they will not soon forget.

“I just want to thank everyone and say congratulations to Edward on your promotion to Captain,” said Juliano. “This has been an amazing opportunity and I had a lot of fun today, thank you so much.”

In addition to having fun they also got a first-hand experience on local government. Niagara County Legislator Rich Andres was one of those who helped mentor the students throughout the day. 

“I had the pleasure of chaperoning this group of students,” said Andres. “Some of them were former students. Everyone was very welcoming. We went on tour to the different offices, we went to the police station and say the inter-workings of all the different departments. The kids were very informed of the issues and I think we are in good hands, as we turn thing over to these guys, as they possibly run for office in the future.”


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