PERU — In skirts and suits, around 30 local students from across Clinton and Essex counties gathered Saturday at Peru Central High School to meet their state legislators.
Selected by their schools, the student delegates joined the League of Women Voters of the Plattsburgh Area for its second-annual Meet Your State Legislators event, featuring Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywomen Janet Duprey and Teresa Sayward. "Not a lot of kids our age get to meet up with senators and get to actually see the Senate from the senator's point of view," said Chazy Central Rural School senior Nathan Swan, who was called into the principal's office two weeks ago to be told he had been selected.
Parents and community members were also invited to attend the event, and nearly 50 of them did.
"We had struggled for years as to how to get more youth involved but also what can we do to make students more aware of what happens in Albany at the government level," said Betty Ann King, co-chair of the event and a board member of the League of Women Voters.
King said the forum gave them a way to bypass partisan political events and show students — and the community — the "straight facts" about how everything plays out in the legislature.
"I feel like it gave me a good insight into what goes on at the government level," said Elijah Beaudin, a senior at Seton Catholic School. "It's inspired me."
Senator Little was the first to address the student delegates.
After campaigning for many others, it wasn't until 1986, when the last of her six children began school, that she ran for a political position. About 16 years later, the Queensbury Republican was elected to the Senate.
"Working with constituents — that's the biggest part of this whole job," she said.