There was pizza, there were princesses, and there were school board candidates ready to answer questions. At the Ask2Know Kids Forum at the Ivy Substation on Wednesday Oct. 26, the sold out house was packed with the target demographics- Culver City students.
When Michelle Mayans began to put the event together, she said “If you build a field they will come. I believe kids really do care about issues. They just need to be allowed to care and be heard.” She was proved right, not only by the interest of the kids, but by the enthusiasm of the candidates.
Some of the questions asked would not have happened at any other candidates forum; “Which of the other candidates would you choose to be with on a desert island?” Most of the questions from the audience were what would be expected from kids – Why are there not more vegetarian choices in the cafeteria? What’s up with the sports complex? How can we get the AP classes that we want? – the candidates addressed the students with respect, honesty, and relish.
Much of the evening was a (hopefully useful) primer on how and what a school board does. When to talk to a teacher, or an administrator, or take it to a board meeting is something every student in attendance should be able to pass a quiz on at this point.
When asked what historical person they would invite to speak to the students, each candidate gave a personalized answer. Chardiet would invite William Shakespeare, Zeidman would ask Abraham Lincoln, Nancy Goldberg would choose Eleanor Roosevelt, Gary Abrams would call on Malcom X, and Zirgulis would seek Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bringing the students into the election process was really a bold stroke of inspiration from Mayans, and she made the evening even more meaningful by holding a silent auction for Claire’s Place Foundation.
Claire Wineland, originally of Culver City, was born with cystic fibrosis or “CF”, a genetic disease that causes excessive mucus secretions and collection, especially in the lungs. In her short life, Claire has undergone dozens of surgeries and has spent weeks at a time in the hospital. This is not, however, what characterizes her. Claire is a singer, an artist, a composer, and a natural-born comedian. She radiates with a warmth and wisdom beyond her years. She has been called a “little Buddha” a “bridge among people”, and a “true old soul.”
How many kids will influence their parents ballots with their experiences on Oct. 26 remains to be seen, but knowing how a school board really works is a slice of education that can be used very effectively.
To donate to Clare’ Place Foundation , go to claresplacefoundation.org