In Milford, the elections weren’t quite over on Nov. 8 as more than 4,400 fifth grade students across the state went to the polls the week following the presidential election to elect their own Connecticut’s Kid Governor.
On Wednesday, Nov. 23, Jessica Brocksom, a fifth grade student at John F. Kennedy Elementary, learned she had won the statewide election and would be serving as Connecticut’s Kid Governor for the 2017 season. The program, now in its second year, was created by the Connecticut Public Affairs Network and is sponsored by the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies and the State Department of Education.
As part of her duties, Jessica will make appearances throughout the state, will contribute to a Connecticut Kid Governor blog, and will fulfill speaking engagements based on her platform issue: The humane treatment of animals.
Jessica said her mission is to fight animal cruelty. She has a three pronged plan to do that: She plans to lobby for tougher laws against people who are cruel to animals; educate the community about cruelty to animals, and raise funds to help abused animals.
The results were announced on Facebook during a pre-arranged Thanksgiving assembly at the school. The students thought they were assembled to talk about Thanksgiving. When the assembly was interrupted for the news that Jessica had been elected out of seven candidates from around the state to serve as Connecticut’s Kid Governor, the room filled with applause.
More than 4,400 registered fifth graders across the state participated in this year’s CKG Election.
Jessica’s family was at the school Wednesday when Jessica learned that she had been elected Connecticut’s Kid Governor. Her aunt, Donna; uncle, Bogdan, and big brother Kevin embraced the fifth grader as reporters and local dignitaries congratulated her.
Her teacher, Donna Stuart, told her, “I’m so so unbelievably happy for you. I know you are going to do an amazing job serving all fifth graders in the great state of Connecticut.
“You are such a perfect candidate and you inspire me every day, and I am so thrilled that you are now going to be inspiring so many others,” Stuart added.
Stuart pointed out that Jessica got help producing a video about her campaign not only from media specialist Casi Caggiano but also from her fifth grade class, some of whom appeared in the video.
Jessica acknowledged the support when she took the microphone to speak and told her fellow students and teachers how grateful she is for their support.
“I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get this far,” she said. “I’m very grateful for all you guys doing this and giving me all the support because this is actually giving me the chance to help with stopping animal cruelty.”
The local fifth grader is no stranger to animals. She has a dog and three cats, as well as two horses, which she said are boarded in Durham. She’s always had animals and cared for them.
Board of Education member Earl Whiskeyman, who was one of a large contingent of city and state officials on hand for the announcement, commented on Jessica’s poise when she spoke. He said her polished, spontaneous remarks will have political parties fighting over her in the future.
Despite the natural ease in front of a crowd, Jessica said she hasn’t thought about politics yet, but may one day be a lawyer who focuses on animal rights.
Connecticut’s Kid Governor (CKG) is a national award-winning statewide civics program created by the Connecticut Public Affairs Network (CPAN). The free program, in its second year, teaches fifth graders about state government, elections, and the importance of civic participation through a real-life election that’s timed to coincide with Election Day in November.
Each officially registered school in Connecticut is eligible to vote in the election, or vote and also nominate one student candidate in the election. Candidates research and run on platforms that address community issues they care about, and work with classmates to create campaign videos.
Fifth grade voters view the videos during the Statewide Election (Nov. 7 – 15) and vote for the candidate and platform they want to support. Other platforms included fighting bullying, homelessness and promoting recycling.
Connecticut’s Kid Governor serves his or her constituents for one year in an active leadership role.
“This is a really big day for Milford,” said State Sen. Gayle Slossberg as she presented a proclamation to Jessica. And to all the students at the school, Slossberg said, “You are awesome.”
Mayor Ben Blake proclaimed Wednesday ‘Governor Jessica Brocksom Day’ in Milford.