Assemblywoman Sandy Galef was sworn in to office today, not by elected or appointed officials, but by students. The inauguration ceremony, which took place at 3:00 PM in the library of Ossining High School, was conducted by student leaders of the Ossining High School Junior State of America (JSA) chapter, in the presence of students, faculty and administrators, local officials, and community members.
“I am so excited to once again have had an opportunity to be engaged with students for my swearing in ceremony,” said Galef. Two years ago, the same high school organization hosted her inaugural ceremony. “The informal exchange of ideas and conversation, and the interaction we were able to have about issues which I believe are critical to moving our state forward, was so positive. Education plays a pivotal role in that forward momentum, which is why I so appreciated the school and JSA hosting this event today.”
The Junior State of America is a national, non-partisan, student-run organization dedicated to bringing civic education to high school students. Through local and regional debate activities, government simulations, civic activism efforts, and community involvement, JSA seeks to increase student awareness of political and social issues in order to foster active participation in the democratic process.
“When Assemblywoman Galef first came to us two years ago to propose the idea, we agreed that it was a perfect fit,” stated Caleb Hersh, Vice-President of the local JSA chapter and one of the inauguration hosts. Hersh also serves as a student leader of the Junior State on the regional and national level. “The Assemblywoman and the high school have always had such a great relationship, since she’s really an elected official ‘in our backyard.’” Galef’s district office is in walking distance of the high school, and regularly staffs talented student interns. “The rallying cry of JSA is ‘Be the People,’ and Assemblywoman Galef, by being so accessible and involved, helps us to be the people every day,” Hersh concluded.
The ceremony itself, which was open to all students, faculty, and community who were interested in attending, began with welcome speeches from JSA student leaders. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Phyllis Glassman spoke about Galef’s advocacy for education, and school district Board of Education Trustee Graig Galef introduced the Assemblywoman. Galef who was also presented with a framed “word cloud” generated by survey responses collected by Ossining High School Library Information Specialist Sudha Narsipur. Ms. Narsipur issued a survey about political and social issues of most concern to hundreds of Ossining High School students, and many students’ signatures were also obtained to show that the “word cloud” was a manifestation of the student body’s collective political interest.
The JSA officers then administered the oath of office to Assemblywoman Galef who spoke about some issues she will be working on in the upcoming state legislative session, and refreshments were served to all guests.
“It was a wonderful event. I certainly hope the students got as much out of the experience as I did," Galef concluded.