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A first-hand civics lesson

Students 'serve' on boards

Shepherd Hill juniors Katie Racicot and Leanne Tremblay represent their school on the Dudley and Charlton Boards of Selectmen, respectively. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
October 04, 2010
Katie Racicot has "always been interested in politics."

That's unusual in someone her age — she's a teenager, but starting her second year on the Dudley Board of Selectmen.

Don't recall seeing her name on a ballot last year? That's not surprising, although you might have if you're one of her peers at Shepherd Hill Regional High School. They elected her to their Student Council, and Principal Mary Pierangeli appointed her to serve as a student selectman.

North of the border in Charlton, Leanne Tremblay is in the same position, except that it's her first year in that seat. The two of them have no formal authority, but get a chance to let the selectmen — and, by extension, the towns — know what's happening in the schools and how young people feel about local politics.

"I wanted to broaden my experience and give back to my town because they gave so much to me," said Tremblay. "… I like to take opportunities when I see them and work hard now to open doors to my future."

To Dudley Selectman Jonathan Ruda, an important aspect of the program is that the students' views are different from the School Committee's. His eponymous cousin, now living in New Jersey, was one of the first people to be student selectmen around 1994.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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