This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST CHESTER — Students in all grade levels at the St. Agnes School in West Chester spent Thursday afternoon learning different types of careers from area residents, from a sheriff, an English professor and an engineer to a nurse, a mayor and even a state senator.
Eighteen members of the community came out to St. Agnes to discuss their careers with groups of students in certain grade levels.
West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta met with two groups of fifth and sixth graders and spent time discussing politics, especially on the local level, and focused on why it’s important for every one of them to be an active voter when they turn 18.
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“The most important thing as a class member or as a member of a community is that when you have the opportunity to vote for someone to represent you, whether on student council or borough council or for mayor or president, that you vote,” Comitta said. “As the League of Women Voters say, their motto is ‘Your vote is your voice.’”
She gave the students a perfect comparison for them to understand why votes can count.
“Just like you do for student council, you elect someone from your class to represent you,” she said. “It’s really rather similar. You can’t win unless you run and you have to vote. Everybody has the opportunity to vote.”
She pointed out to a student that her one vote can indeed make a difference, which as the students learned, can happen as in the Downingtown Borough Council race two years ago, a candidate lost by one vote and it again happened this past November for the West Goshen Township Board of Supervisors.
Comitta also discussed what being a mayor can entail.
“As Mayor of West Chester, I have a number of jobs, but I have two very important jobs,” she said. “No. 1 is to represent all the people who live in the Borough of West Chester, which means I need to listen to the people for any concerns they have, complaints they have, ideas they have to make West Chester even better … Another very important job of the mayor is to oversee the police department and be the liaison of the police department and the people of West Chester.”
State Sen. Andy Dinniman spent time with a couple mixed groups of fifth- through eighth-graders.
He spent time having a one-on-one with each of the students, asking them all what career they were most interested in at this point in their young lives.
Dinniman received mixed responses, from a professional athlete and chef to a teacher and marine biologist.
There were a couple younger students who weren’t quite sure what career they wanted to pursue.
“No one should feel the least bit anxious if they don’t know,” Dinniman said. “What happens is, as you study something here, or see what your dad did or because you read books, you find things you like to do. I didn’t think when I was in fifth or eighth grade that I would be a state senator from this area. I didn’t even think about being a professor at that time. Sometimes the best thing that happens is you find a teacher that’s really passionate about a subject and that’s what connects you to it.”
If Dinniman could leave just one impression on the students he saw, it was that he wanted them to know they could become whatever they wanted to be, so long as they were willing to always work for it.
“When you want to pursue a career, you have to also study hard and want to do it,” he said. “It’s not easy and lots of people will give their dream up. Whatever career you’ve chosen, I want you to understand that you can dream it and you can become almost anything, but you have to be willing to hang in there. The combination of academic excellence and faith is unbeatable. It will give you the strength to succeed.”