PLAISTOW — As a Kid Executive Councilor, a Pollard fifth-grader is eager to speak out against bullying and collaborate with other students to foster a culture of positivity in schools statewide.
“I’ve seen bullying in my own school, and it’s just wrong — so this seemed like a way to fix the problem,” said 11-year-old Kasey Fitzgerald of Plaistow.
Kasey was one of about 1,000 students from around New Hampshire participating in the Kid Governor program, which kicked off its second year last October. Students in 22 schools took part in the program, which is an initiative of St. Anselm College, the Department of Education and the New Hampshire State House.
Several youngsters actively ran for office while the remainder sized up candidates and selected who would represent their school in the statewide contest. In addition to electing a Kid Governor, five students, including Kasey, were selected to serve as Kid Executive Councilors.
According to the state’s website, the five-member council “are the constituent's eyes and ears in Concord. They ensure the executive branch of state government is fiscally conservative and above reproach.” To this end, the council provides guidance on how the state budget is expended and it approves administrative appointments put forth by the governor.
“Kasey definitely showed a lot of initiative and dedication,” said her mother Sheila Fitzgerald, who added, “but there was also tremendous support from her teachers and the other kids.”
Fitzgerald said teacher Jo Ann Robichaud provided overall coordination for the initiative. She also said that Kasey’s own teacher, Dolores Coyle-Quirk, was “extremely supportive.”
“She’s really an extraordinary girl,” Fitzgerald beamed. “This is all on top of everything else she does — she’s a level 7 gymnast in the junior olympics and plays lacrosse — and oh, did I mention she gets straight As, too?”
The State House ceremony, which took place in Representatives’ Hall on Jan. 17, was attended by Gov. Chris Sununu and other high ranking state officials.
“It was really exciting — going through the whole process,” Kasey said the day after she was sworn in.
Accompanying the 11-year-old and her family at the State House were state Rep. Norm Major and his wife Brenda.
Major, who’s known Kasey and her fellow triplets since they were babies, said he learned about the ceremony from her teacher, Coyle-Quirk.
“You have to be brave to accomplish something like this,” said Major, who has represented Plaistow for 24 years in the state Legislature. “She is smart and has a lot of courage and is really the kind of person who steps into leadership.”
Also wishing Kasey luck in her new role is District 3 Executive Councilor Russell Prescott, who represents 33 communities including Plaistow, Kingston and Atkinson.
“As a councilor, your job is to help the governor carry out the policies that representatives approve based on what voters tell them,” said the former state representative of 10 years.
As a small group entrusted with a tremendous responsibility, Prescott said that it’s imperative that members work cordially together to advance the greater good.
In terms of advice that he offered Kasey, it’s almost like he took a page right out of her anti-bullying playbook.
“The most important thing is to be kind — kindness is key," Prescott said. "We’re all dedicated to making this a great state and you accomplish a lot more by working together.”
Kasey will play a significant role in helping the Kid Governor execute her agenda. She will also have a chance to advance some of her own anti-bullying priorities mentioned in her three-minute-long campaign video.
“It is a real community issue,” she said about bullying, adding that she is “passionate about making a difference.”
Kasey outlined a three-point plan to protect students by promoting positivity.
One of her platform’s planks advocated the installation of “Kindness Bulletin Boards.” Kasey described them as “spaces where students can post kind and positive notes about others.”
She also urged schools to implement a “kindness pledge,” in which students would promise not to bully.
Finally, Kasey said she would urge schools to institute “Kindness Weeks” or “Kindness Days” during which teachers, administrators and students would observe special activities to bolster a culture of civility and collegiality.
“Just imagine if someone said something nice to you or did something nice for no other reason than to just be kind — how cool would that be,” Kasey said the day after the ceremony.
Kasey’s three-minute campaign video is available on Youtube and can be found by searching the term “kasey nh kid governor” on the website.