When the Shaker High School First Amendment, First Vote students attended Gov. Kathy Hochul’s inauguration in January, they had hoped to meet the governor in person.
Their wish came true on March 7 when they were invited to the Governor’s Mansion for a Women’s History Month reception, where senior Kamellia Barrett and sophomore Sakthi Jagannath read poems in celebration of the evening. Barrett read “Awaking New York” by Maya Angelou and Jagannath read “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. They were the only speakers other than Governor Hochul herself.
“It was a joy to witness,” said Superintendent Kahtleen Skeals, who attended the event along with the group’s student advisers, teachers Christine Butry and Saskia Dolan. “The students were treated like VIPs and it was amazing to see how many women engaged with them and spent time talking with them and listening to them.” In addition to the readings and pictures with the Governor, Commissioner Jeanette Moy introduced students to many dignitaries, including NYS Attorney General Lettia James. The students spent a great deal of time in conversation with Attorney General James learning about everything from networking to internships.
North Colonie students Leila Adelstein, Maya Kantimahanthu, Essence Kelsey, Krithi Pala, Gia Patel, Keira Quinn, and Claire Romania also attended the event.
SHS is the only school in the Capital Region participating in the Capital District Regional Cohort of 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.
Commissioner Moy of the Office of General Services extended an invitation to the group to Gov. Hochul’s inauguration after participating in roundtable discussions with the SHS students at a 1st A-1st V kickoff event held in December 2022.
Our two student poetry readers at the event were interviewed the next day by News 10’s Cassie Hudson. Watch the story that aired.