Empowerment: SHS Girls Learn, Envision Themselves as Elected Leaders

Twenty-two Shaker High School (SHS) students earlier this week participated in a kick off meeting for the Capital District Regional Cohort of 1st Amendment-1st Vote Inc. (1st A-1st V), a non-partisan seminar and conference opportunity for high school teens who identify as girls to imagine themselves engaged in the political process as leaders and candidates for elected office in position adulthood and/or as leaders in government-related positions.

SHS students at First Amendment, First Vote kick off meeting

SHS is the only school in the Capital Region participating in this opportunity. In the coming months, the students will work with SHS faculty to develop an action plan at the high school to tackle an issue that they prioritize as in need of change. Saskia Dolan, Andrea Stupp, and Christine Butry – all social teachers at SHS – are serving as teacher coordinators. 

The first meeting was an opportunity for the students to team build and begin planning a school project. The students also had the chance to speak with women in leadership roles including: Linda Harrison, president North Colonie Board of Education; Carmel Patrick, member of the Schenectady City Council; Sheri Dozier-Owens, regional director for the Office of NYS Comptroller; and Jeanette Moy, commissioner of the Office of General Services. 

SHS students speak with Jeanette Moy, the commissioner of the Office of General Services.

“This is our first year with the program and we are excited to work with the students,” said Butry. “Today was inspirational. These young women are already leaders, but today they got to see that this isn’t just what we study, but that this (women in elected office) is in our communities and is real and accessible.” 

The student participants expressed interest in the program and were recommended by a teacher. SHS student Solomiia Valihunda said she was excited about the opportunity. “I wanted to participate to feel empowered by other students like me.” 

In late spring, the group will meet with other 1st A-1st V students from across the state in Seneca Falls to share plans and further develop the leadership potential of the participants.  

Click here to learn more about 1st A-1st V.