Despite Restricts, Explore Middle School Holds Annual Student Council Elections

(November 18th, 2020 -- Jersey City) Though faced with restrictions and obstacles due to the virtual and hybrid environments, the staff and students at Explore Middle School were able to successfully hold their annual Student Council elections. Sharing campaign videos on Google

Classroom and Explore’s social media pages and utilizing Google Meet for candidates to deliver speeches, both virtual and hybrid students were able to participate in the week-long activities.

Supervisor and Social Studies teacher, Ms. Jamie Velazquez led the preparation and execution of the Student Council election process with 6th-grade advisor Ms. Bermas, 7th-grade advisor Ms.

L. Norcia, and 8th-grade advisors Ms. Cirillo and Ms. Franco. Many factors had to be taken into consideration in order to have the election as traditional as possible, but with planning by the advisor, help from various staff members, and the excitement of the students, the election process was a success.

The process began with students acquiring 3 nominations from peers in their advisory in order to become a candidate for class representative. In addition to class representatives, 8th-grade students could be nominated for Vice President or President of the student body.

6th-grade class representative candidates included Lucas Kirschner, Dmitri Sobolev, and Deliela Valladares from Ms. M. Norcia’s advisory. Olivia Habermann and Michelle Ramnath were chosen as candidates from Ms. Kettleman’s advisory. And the candidates for Ms. Bermas’ advisory were Hilarya Ishaq and Reda Jellouli.

Colin Jette and Isabella Santini were candidates for Ms. H. Garrett’s 7th-grade advisory. Candidates for Ms. Daniel Amador, Emma Sauerbrei, and Marco Urgiles were chosen for Ms. L. Norcia’s advisory. Kyle Kennedy ran unopposed and became class representative for Ms. A. Garrett’s advisory.

8th grader Lindsay Cacace ran unopposed in Mr. Dunphy’s advisory as did Francis Haim in Mr. Aziz’s advisory. Dianne Ovalles ran for class representative of Ms. Cirillo’s advisory against Mikail Oflaz, who also ran for Student Body President, and Maya Boguszewski, who also ran for Student Body President.

Along with Boguszewski, 8th graders Ludwig Pahl and Felix Puig Seppalainen ran for Student Body Vice President.

In addition to Oflaz, Aidan Chapas, Gabriel Marandino, Olivia Van Tassell, and Egar ran for Student Body President.

Each candidate created a campaign video and prepared a speech with the help of the Student Council advisors. Because of Explore’s hybrid rotating schedule, each grade held its election on different days of the week. Thanks to Explore’s Education Technology Facilitator, Mr. Tripodi, students were able to watch the elections via Google Meet also providing virtual candidates an opportunity to present their speeches live as well.

Each election assembly was kicked off with keynote speaker, Mr. Vega, former West New York mayor and director of the Hudson County Schools of Technology Foundation. Mr. Vega shared the details of what inspired his decision to one day run for a political position. He congratulated the candidates on their dedication to their school community. Mr. Vega encouraged the candidates to remain positive regardless of the outcomes by reminding them that before Abraham Lincoln became a history-making president, he lost more than one election early in his career.

Immediately following the candidates’ speeches, the students reported to advisory and voted for their appropriate representatives, Vice President, and President. At dismissal each day, Supervisor Velazquez announced the winners.

6th-grade representatives: Dmitri Sobolev, Ms. M. Norcia’s advisory, Michelle Ramnath, Ms. Kettleman’s advisory, and Reda Jellouli, Ms. Bermas’ advisory.

7th-grade representatives: Isabella Santini, Ms. H. Garrett’s advisory, Daniel Amadore, Ms. L. Norcia’s advisory, and Kyle Kennedys, Ms. A. Garrett’s Advisory.

8th-grade representatives: Lindsay Cacace, Mr. Dunphy’s advisory, Francis Haim Mr. Aziz’s advisory, and Dianne Ovalles, Ms. Cirillo’s advisory.

Maya Boguszewski was elected Student Body Vice President. “I am so excited to be Explore's Vice President. I know I will help benefit our school in all positive ways. It has been my dream to become Explore's Vice President. I will ensure that everyone is mentally happy, comfortable, and safe,” she shared.

Mikail Oflaz was voted Student Body President. He explained, "being in the student council for 3 years, I have learned to really bring our community together and I especially hope to work towards unity given our circumstances. I am looking forward to representing Explore Middle School this year and I think that it's going to be great."

Principal Allyson Krone is proud of both the student candidates and the staff who made the election possible. “The Student Council is so important to us because it is an opportunity to elevate student voice in order to strengthen relationships, foster a sense of belonging, increase engagement, and inform instruction. Each year, the student council election is one of the most fun and engaging assemblies at Explore. During a planning meeting this summer with Ms.

Velazquez and the student council advisors, we decided that this year will be just as exciting, if not more, despite the challenge of not having all of the students in on the same day for the assembly. Thank you to all students who participated and congratulations to our newly elected officials!”

The newly elected Student Council’s first order of business was continuing the annual tradition of honoring Veteran’s Day with the members of Jersey City’s Samuel R. Shelton VFW Post 2294. In lieu of the tradition of hosting a breakfast for the members, the Student Council put together a video saluting the Veterans, acknowledging the sacrifices they made for others and thanking them for their service.

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