Weekly Feature



2016-10-06 / Local News

St. Mary’s students learn importance of voting

by NICK KONOTOPSKYJ Reporter


Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw spoke to St. Mary’s Elementary students on Tuesday morning about the importance of government. Rep. Chris Collins will speak to students on Tuesday, Oct. 25. Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw spoke to St. Mary’s Elementary students on Tuesday morning about the importance of government. Rep. Chris Collins will speak to students on Tuesday, Oct. 25. With both the local and national elections coming up in November, St. Mary’s Elementary School decided to hold a special event to help teach their students the importance of voting. On Tuesday, they brought in a guest speaker to help deliver that message.

That speaker was Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, who spoke to the sixth-grade class about his upbringing, job responsibilities and the importance of voting in every election.

Scott Lemiesz is a social studies teacher in grades six through eight at St. Mary’s, and he was responsible for bringing Mychajliw in to speak. Lemiesz explained why the event was put together and why he chose Mychajliw.

“We invited him to talk to the kids to introduce them to local government,” Lemiesz said. “They don’t hear about it often, and we want them to hear about how important it is.”

This was the first time that Mychajliw has given a speech at St. Mary’s Elementary, but the school was already familiar with his background and experience in Western New York.

“Mr. Mychajliw is very influential in Erie County and does a lot of great things,” Lemiesz said. “I figured there would be no better person to send that message.”

Mychajliw talked about his Ukrainian heritage and the influence his grandparents and parents have had on his life. He even shared a valuable lesson he learned from them.

“My grandparents and mother and father always told me that education is the great equalizer,” Mychajliw said. “In our great country, if you work hard and receive a great education, you can be absolutely anything that you want to be.”

Mychajliw was impressed with how engaged the students were and eventually left them with a piece of advice.

“I try my best to incorporate my faith life into my life of public service,” Mychajliw said. “Everyone is blessed with incredibly unique and special gifts. I encourage all of you to try and find out that special gift that you have and try to love and serve others with that.”

Lemiesz mentioned how the school is not finished with voting activities this fall.

“In November, we are going to have a mock presidential election where the students will vote for the candidate of their choice,” he said. “There will be a voting booth set up so the students can see what it’s like.”

Mychajliw made sure to mention by the end of the presentation that even though these students aren’t of age yet, they need to be ready to vote when their time comes.

“Make sure when you are old enough and reach the age of 18, the first thing you should do is register to vote,” he said.

“It’s so important whether you are Republican, a Democrat, or Conservative. There are multiple parties you can choose, so please vote because every vote counts.”

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