Williston Park board gives kids lesson

Williston Park board gives kids lesson

They were a bit tentative at times, but their diminutive statures was the only dead giveaway at Saturday morning’s Village of Williston Park board meeting that the 4th graders from three Williston Park elementary schools who were presiding over the meeting weren’t really elected officials.

The students took the annual exercise in apprentice democracy as more than child’s play, and at least one of them said she’d like to do it for real.

“Hopefully, I think it would be a very nice job,” said Cross Street student Alana Smith when asked whether she would like to be the real mayor.

Of course, Smith’s Saturday job as mayor was in front of a friendly audience of family members and nobody ventured to pose any controversial issues or hurl any invective at the young trustees.

Like her fellow faux politicos, Smith handled her job admirably, bringing the meeting to order, leading the pledge of allegiance, and asking for approval of minutes from recent meetings and abstracts – regular expenditure items that the real trustees clear with equal dispatch.

Smith had Deputy Mayor Teresa Thomann to advise her, as each student trustee had an adult from the village administration to give them cues.

The student took their cues deftly – as effective politicians will – and also read from the effusive essays that won them their temporary jobs about why Williston Park is a nice place to live.

“I can’t imagine a prettier village than Williston Park. There are a lot of nice houses here,” Smith read, ending with “P.S. If you’re in Williston Park, stay there.”

There were common strains in all the essays, which frequently mentioned the municipal pool, the local pizzerias, Ralph’s Italian Ices and John’s Variety Store.

“I like that their themes were the food and the pool,” said Karen Curran, who teaches 4th grade at the Cross Street School.

Raffaella Zanetti, a Center Street School student who was acting village, noted the village’s “many fun events” like the Memorial Day parade. “And if you live there, you can be in them,” she read.

“Williston Park has many houses and we are doing many things to make things better,” Trustee’ Samantha DiMilia, from St. Aidan’s, read with a sense of rhetoric a real trustee might employ.

“It’s small and easy to get place to place,” ‘Trustee’ Joey Paladino read, also lauding John’s Variety for its selection of cap guns and other essentials, and praising the Williston Park Public Library for having “every book I can think of.”

“The people are all friendly and the birds are always singing in the morning,” read ‘Trustee’ Zachary Koerber from the Center Street School, who was as enthusiastic about the local gastronomic options as he was about the village’s idyllic appeal. “I love to go to Frantoni’s. And afterwards I like to go to Dunkin’ Donuts. Man, I love the food here.”

‘Trustee’ Emma Collins went into some detail about her appreciation of the municipal pool: “Williston Park has a great pool. You can swim in the pool, or go down the slide or go to the snack bar. It’s great.”

They each covered some village news, reading from scripted messages prepared by the real mayor and trustees:

The annual village tree lighting will be on Dec. 5.

The Williston Park Beautification Committee will be meeting on Nov. 29 and Dec. 5 at 8 a.m.

The village library is currently collecting for “Toys for Tots” on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Afterwards, Joey Paladino said he liked “saying the reports.”

Zanetti said she also enjoyed the reports – and the cookies and hot chocolate too.

“I always laugh at their honesty,” said Janine Paolucci, a 4th grade teacher at the Center Street school.

Thomann said the morning had been a practical lesson in civics.

“The fact you’re introducing the democratic process on the local level in a way that they can relate to it is terrific,” she said.

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