Mayor for a Moment

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Each month the City of Ventura invites a student from a local fifth grade class to be Mayor for a Moment.  Students are invited to submit a written piece, visual art, or music about a particular theme.  A student whose piece is chosen is invited to read or present their work at the City Council meeting.


MAY 2015 - THEME OF THE MONTH: SHORT STORY

Connor and Timothy Quest, Twin 5th Graders
Mound Elementary School
Council Meeting: May 11, 2015

"Connor and Timothy Quest are inquisitive, smart, confident boys who are very well liked by their teachers and classmates," says Principal Tyner of Mound Elementary School.  They are the Student Council President (Connor) and Vice President (Timothy), after rapping their way to student election victories in November 2014.  Connor and Timothy  wrote and performed a rap about global citizenship at the City Council meeting of May 11, 2015.

"Take Over"

Stop picking on me because of my religion or my race

Yeah, we might not have the same name or play the same game

That doesn’t mean I’m lame

So what, you can afford a pool, that doesn’t mean you rule

Because your thoughts, dreams, memes crawl into my head

It makes me so afraid, I can’t even go to bed

Stop criticizing me – I’m just being who I’m meant to be

 

Cause I’m gonna take over your words and turn them into melodies

That  we can sing forever and live so happily

 

Yeah, I might be a different religion, race or gender, but we are all the same inside

So just close your eyes and think of me as a different but equal guy

It’s hard to believe that you and me came from the same place

But we need to respect each other even though we are a different race

It’s so odd that you question my looks, personality and physical ability

Accept the diversity in you and me and teach it to all the families

Persuaded, yet why the heck, would you keep going with this charade

It’s not a big parade and if it were, people would be marching with me

 

Cause I’m gonna take over your words and turn them into melodies

That  we can sing forever and live so happily

 

Let's you and me work together just like we're best friends, and stop depression, poverty, and more

So we can see a happy family everywhere, cause that’s what this is all about

Teaching people how to look out for others just like we're all brothers, mothers, fathers

It doesn’t matter as long as we are peaceful

So get a mouthful of liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness

No more crime and war so you won’t have to spend a dime on useless

Time wasted by corruption on the land you seek 

Because they are weak and need power to fill an empty hole down in their heartless  soul

But we can stop that, and work in a team to get the powerful gleam of hope

 

Cause we’re gonna take each others hand and sing peaceful melodies

That we can sing forever and live so happily

 

Let's work on the economy and set up lots of charities,

So we can keep on cherishing those precious lives that we fight so hard to keep alive,

And revive the poor countries that are in need of aid

And the shade of fundamental government

Come on, hold my hand, take a stand, lets make a plan

No more starving people, no more dirty rivers, no more diseases, this pleases nobody

You can save a live or two or three or four or five

no matter what, just try and you will save a guy who’s about to die

 

Cause we’re gonna take each other's hand and sing peaceful melodies

That we can sing forever and live so happily

 


APRIL 2015 - THEME OF THE MONTH: POETRY

Jimmy McTaggart, 5th Grade Student
Pierpont Elementary School
Council Meeting: April 20, 2015

Jimmy McTaggart has attended Pierpont Elementary School since kindergarten.  He is a highly creative and talented student.  He is a skilled scientist and hopes to become an engineer.  Jimmy thrives in written expression and public speaking and has particularly developed an interest in poetry this year, as a fifth grader.  Below is a poem titled, "Peace", which Jimmy wrote and read at the City Council Meeting of April 20, 2015.

 


MARCH 2015 - THEME OF THE MONTH: WOMEN'S HISTORY

Tilly Dillon, 5th Grade
Junipero Serra Elementary School
Council Meeting: March 9, 2015

Tilly Dillon is an impressive 5th grader who embraces education.  She is a ballerina and recently had the role of Clara in the Nutcracker.  Below is the biography she created, followed by her acrostic poem, about Malala Yousafzai in celebration of Women's History Month which she read during her moment as Mayor at the City Council meeting of March 9, 2015.

Biography written by Tilly.

Acrosict poem: "MALALA"

Made a speech titled, "How Dare the Taliban Take Away my Basic Rights of Education?"

Activist for children's right of education.

Life threatening murder attempted by Taliban because she threatened their power.

Awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peach Prize and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

Leader and role model for all children.

Amazing use of words to influence change in her young age.

 


FEBRUARY 2015 - THEME OF THE MONTH: LOCAL HISTORY

Amaya Fuentes, 5th Grade
Elmhurst Elementary School
Council Meeting: February 9, 2015

"Amaya is a terrific student," says her teacher, Ms. Carolyn Kircher.  Amaya prepared a short digital presentation for the City Council about Ventura's surf history.  She also created a miniature surfboard as part of a project assigned by another 5th grade teacher, Mr. Ryan Oas.  Below is a picture of one of the foam blanks, like the one that Amaya used, to shape into her miniature board.

"SURF HISTORY"

Do you know about Ventura’s surf history? In this essay you will learn about tragedies and great accomplishments of Ventura’s surfers. I will first talk about the 1930’s, then 1965, and finally 1995.    

In Ventura, surfing is very popular. If there are high tides you always see lots of surfers at the beach. The beach has lots and lots of sand that has kids playing in it almost 24/7. When I go to the beach I love to make sandcastles with my friends while I watch my brother surf. As stated by the article, “Demonstrating their acrobatic skills, surfers balance on their boards and ride the ocean waves at impressive speeds.” Surfing seems pretty hard to learn, but surfers will always try to accomplish the hardest waves.

According to Ventura Surf Club, surfing started in the 1800’s when the Chumash Indians rode reed boats known as Tule Balsa. They rode at the mouth of the Ventura River. Tule Balsa looks like an upside-down, hollowed out surf board. The Tule Balsa also have both ends sticking upward with flat ends.

Surfing, as we know it today, did not begin until the 1930’s when a few locals rode on long redwood boards. The redwood boards were very heavy to the surfers. The period between the first and second wars marked the first changes to surfboard design and construction since the start of the traditional Hawaiian surfboards as stated by Legendary Surfers.

In 1965, surfing’s original prize money contest was known as the Tom Morey Nose-riding Contest. Surfboard manufacturer Tom Morey developed the invitational as a way to promote his new factory-retail surf shop. According to Legendary Surfers, the contest was notable not for its prize money ($1,500), but for its original scoring method. Instead of having judges score from 1 to 10, the surfers are timed as they ride the nose, and judged based on how long their ride lasted.

In 1995, a winter rainstorm created the 18 foot surf, and destroyed 420 feet of the Ventura pier. It scattered large wooden pieces of the pier along the California coastline. The high seas forced a ship to be ripped from its anchored spot, which led to the closure of the San Buenaventura State beach and a late night search for a lost surfer who came to shore 10 hours later. The storm also caused many traffic accidents.

Surfing has played a large part in Ventura’s history. We’ve had contests and rainstorms, but that didn’t stop us from getting better and working hard because that’s what surfing is all about. It will be interesting to see how surfing evolves in the decades to come.

 


JANUARY 2015 - THEME OF THE MONTH: MOST INSPIRING SENIOR

Daniel Lancet, 5th Grade
Blanche Reynolds Elementary School
Council Meeting: January 12, 2015

Principal Hatton describes Daniel as a highly intellectual student who is expressive, discerning, thoughtful, and inquisitive.  He has a great love of soccer and has a deep connection to his family.

"MOST INSPIRING SENIOR"

The prompt I was given just said to talk about an inspiring senior citizen. That was a bit of a problem for me, because I have four grandparents who are all inspiring in several ways. So instead of giving examples of an inspiring senior citizen, I would like to talk about my grandparents and senior citizens as a whole.

Senior citizens fill an important part of our society, our communities, and our personal lives. Many participate in community service.  For example, warming centers, children’s education, and many other important non-profit organizations. Senior citizens also continue to make-up one the largest and most consistent voting populations in America. Many seniors continue to care for their children and grandchildren.

Our seniors have learned a lot and can help the young avoid making the same mistakes, or teach us that not all problems can be solved overnight. They can remind us that life takes patience and persistence. They can remind us the importance of not worrying about every little thing and the importance of planning ahead, being strategic, and choosing our battles. They can remind us that sometimes we need to slow down and appreciate our lives and those around us. In other words, contrary to some myths, senior citizens can be active involved participants that can enjoy their lives and greatly enrich the lives of those around them.

All four of my grandparents, are great examples of this. I have many joyous memories of their loving kindness, thoughtfulness, helpfulness and care. They each continue to touch my life in ways that inspire and comfort me as they share with me the unique gifts they have gathered along the way.

My Grandmother Theresa makes the most incredible Irish Potato soup and sings beautiful Irish ballads. She always listens with a warmth and kind patience, and gets us sharing our songs and stories along with a cup of tea and comforting snacks. You would think you are in Ireland.

My Grandma Lenny always remembers our birthdays, she still us sends cards via snail mail and we love to get them in our mailbox. She is always happy to see us, and greets us with smiles and laughter. And she loves to celebrate holidays like me.

My Grandpa Mel is still one of best dressed people I have ever met. He knows a lot about history and can recite poems and quote literature from numerous authors, he seems to understand the economy better than most, and has always cared about our literacy.

My Grandpa Bob is a scientist and seems like he can solve any problem or fix, build, or invent anything. He is a life-long learner and continues to help each one of us with his thoughtful support, insights, and experience. He also continues to lead the way in our family in learning new technologies and helping us to problem solve in the face of life’s challenges. They are all an important part of my life and who I am becoming. I am lucky and grateful they are all still with me and I cannot imagine my life and home without them.

Yet, I have noticed that not all senior citizens are doing as well as my grandparents. I have been hearing more and more about the problems that people are facing as they become senior citizens.  I’ve noticed that some people mistreat, underestimate, or simply do not care enough about the senior citizens around them.

Some have said that you can understand a lot about a culture and society by how they treat their elderly. It is not necessary to treat seniors so differently than we would treat each other. We should respect them as equals if not more. We should try not to coddle them.  In many cultures, for example Native American culture, senior citizens are treated with the utmost respect and as people that can be counted upon for their wisdom and experience. This seems like this idea still exists in our culture, but the role for seniors in our society seems less certain, and often seems less than it should be.

Many voices that deserve to be heard, aren’t.  (This is also true for people that are under-aged). Yes, there are some physical limitations and extra pains that challenge senior citizens, but this is not a reason to have any less respect for them or to stop learning from their unique voices, experiences, and abilities.

I am also concerned that we are not doing enough to care for our elders. Many seniors today are not sure if they can retire, whether or not they can afford medical care or insurance, they are concerned they may lose the social security payments they depend on. Many are afraid they will be left alone or not have anyone to care for them when they can no longer care for themselves. The safety net that used to assure that our elderly could enjoy their later lives seems like it is being taken apart thread by thread.

What does this say about our society if and when we stop taking care of our elderly? What kind of world would you like to live in when you are old enough to retire? Would you like to live in a world where you must work until you drop or where you live in isolation? Would you like to be treated as though your ideas are no longer needed, or you feel forgotten? Or, would you like to live in a world in which you know you count, your voice still matters, your experience is valued, you still have a community to be a part of and you know you are loved and that people care about you?

The answers are obvious and yet we all know there is still a lot more we must do to assure that our seniors, now and in the future, are alive and well and a vital part of our lives.

So, I would like to thank you all for giving me this privilege and say that as Mayor for a Moment,  I would like to cast my vote in favor of doing everything we can to assure that we care about everyone, at all stages of their lives, so that all people of all ages, can look forward to being appreciated and respected participants in our world. Thank you.

 


DECEMBER 2014 - THEME OF THE MONTH: MUSIC

Sergio Gaona, 5th Grade
E. P. Foster Elementary School
Council Meeting: December 1, 2014

Sergio is an exemplary, talented, well-rounded student.  He enjoys music and art and excels in all subjects.  Sergio wrote an acrostic poem to express the importance of music.  He also played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on his ukulele while he was Mayor for a Moment.

"MUSIC"

M is for marvelous.  Music is marvelous because it brings people together.  For example, the other day I was playing outside the cafeteria and a lot of kids came around me and were smiling.

U stands for unique.  The language of music has its own kind of beauty that we can all understand because it is a language of the heart.

S is for strengthening.  Anytime we learn something new we are strengthening our minds.  When we memorize chords and words to songs we are strengthening.  This is exactly what we do to our mind.

I stands for inspiration.  Beautiful music can be inspiring because of the beautiful message it sends.  At school we learn songs about friendship and kindness which are very important things to be inspired about.

C is for cool.  What is cool about music is that it gives joy to others with its soothing notes and sounds.  All the joy that music gives the world comes from only 7 notes: ABCDEF and G.

 


NOVEMBER 2014 - THEME OF THE MONTH: INVENTION

Minnoli Nori, 5th Grade
Academy of Technology and Leadership at Saticoy (ATLAS)
Council Meeting: November 3, 2014

Minnoli, although younger than many of her peers, exhibits amazing poise, composure, and grace, far exceeding those twice her age!  She demonstrates a thirst for knowledge, is humble, and sincere.  Ms. Nori is undaunted by academic challenges.                

"Invention"

I brainstormed the topic and was not sure what to write.  I looked into the dictionary for ‘Invention’ and found it is the action of inventing something, typically a process or device; something fabricated/made up; creative ability; innovation; used as a title for a short piece of music and so on.  Finally, I narrowed it down as; the ‘skill and imagination to create things’.

Last year, I had some not-so-nice experiences.  I faced them courageously and became stronger as a person.  Now I can speak and stand for myself.  Also, I lost the Student Council Election.  I was very sad.  Then the chance came to be part of the Student Council with more general roles.  I realized leadership is not about the position.  It’s about action and being actively participating in all the activities at my school.  With this new insight and hard work, I hope to enrich the lives of those around!

Did I just write all this?  I am assured that writing is the greatest invention of all!  It is the foundations of civilization and a revolution in the way we think.  My teachers use many strategies to stimulate our creative abilities through ideas, stories, and art (ie., creative writing arts).  Benjamin Franklin said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”  Shouldn’t we all use the power of writing for a better understanding of the world?

 


OCTOBER 2014 - BULLYING PREVENTION MONTH

Christopher Egbert, 5th Grade
Loma Vista Elementary School
Council Meeting: October 13, 2014

Christopher enjoys gymnastics, running, writing songs, and playing the piano.  He wrote this song which he read as a poem at the City Council meeting during his moment as Mayor.

"Bullying Prevention"

I can’t figure out what I’ve done

Put me down, you think it’s fun

At school, alone on the ground

I’m the new kid never found

I tried to keep up my strength

But too many insults

I tried telling an adult

It didn’t work, it just hurts!

 

I can’t take it anymore

It hurt my skin down to the core

Turn away and slam the door

This feels like I’m in a war!

 

Let me tell you from the start

This is coming from the heart

Look them in the eyes, not a tear or a cry

If you cry it gives the bully more power

Then you’ll feel like you’re in a bully shower

 

Tell them you are done

By being beat up by their words

If you’re being bulled

This may work

 

Another thing you can do

Is turn your back and walk away

This may be the way

Of you feeling safe

 

I won’t take it anymore

You can’t hurt my skin down to the core

I have friend support

Time to end this war

I can stand up to this bully, bully, bully.

 


MAY 2014 - SHORT STORY MONTH - NATIONAL KIDS TO PARK DAY

Isabel Samatar, 5th Grade
Lincoln Elementary School
Council Meeting: May 5, 2014

Isabel is a hard working and creative student.  She won Lincoln Elementary School's Spelling Bee and represented Lincoln at the Ventura County Spelling Bee.  Isabel read her short story, based on the theme National Kids to Park Day, at our May 5, 2014 Council Meeting.

"The Easter Competition"

            The sky was a clear blue the morning of the annual Easter Children’s Competition.  Lea looked out the window of her mother’s car as they pulled up alongside Redwood Park. She saw her friend Ruby waving.  Lea grinned and waved back.  She got out of the car.

            “Hi, Lea!” Ruby said.  “You ready to win this thing?”

            “Of course!” Lea replied.  Ruby and Lea had signed up as partners of the egg-to-knee race.  You had to put an egg between you and your partner’s knees and go around the perimeter of the park without dropping it.  They had chosen this race because it was the only egg race where they could be partners.

            Ruby and  Lea ran to the starting line where the other competitors were milling around.  They looked at their competition and started pointing out people that looked hard to beat.  Lea saw two girls with dark hair staring at the trophy.  It was about a foot tall and bright gold.  It seemed to glow in the sun.

            “Those two look like they’ll do anything to win,” said Ruby, seeing them.  “We should watch out for them.”  Lea nodded and looked around at the other competitors.  A pair of boys, one short with light hair and one bigger boy with dark hair looked like they really wanted to win.  Lea pointed them out to Ruby, and she agreed that they looked formidable.

            A man that looked like some sort of coach held up a megaphone and shouted into it.

            “The race will begin in a moment!  Remember, you and your partner may only use your knees.  Each team gets only one raw egg!  If your egg drops, it’ll crack and you will be disqualified.  Pass the finish line without cracking your egg, and you and your partner get this beautiful trophy to take home!  Now the race will start.  Put your eggs between your legs.”  Ruby and Lea did as he said, finding the best way to sandwich their egg.  Lea felt the tension build as the coach held up his megaphone.  “On your marks…get set…GO!”

            And they were off!  Ruby and Lea hobbled down the narrow dirt path that went along the edge of the park.  They passed the REDWOOD PARK sign, newly painted just for the Easter competition. 

            “Doin’ okay, Ruby?” Lea asked her friend.

            “Yeah.  You?”

            “Yup.  I’m fine.  Let’s go faster and catch up with them.”  Lea pointed to the two boys she had seen earlier.  They were just about a yard in front of them!  Ruby and Lea shuffled down the path faster.  The finish line was just a little ways ahead.

            Lea reached out and grabbed Ruby’s arm.  She pulled her friend faster and faster.  “Lea!  Stop going so fast!” Ruby warned, but it was too late.  She stumbled and just as the egg was about to fall, one of the boys in front of them reached back and caught it.  He carefully placed it between their knees.

            “Thank you,” the girls cried in unison.  The boy nodded and looked at the finish line.  He was determined.

            His partner elbowed him for helping Ruby and Lea.  He then reached out to steady his friend, but the egg dropped and cracked on the ground.

            “Sorry,” Lea said, but they had to go on.  They stumbled across the finish line and collapsed.  They had won!

            “Ruby Lavendel and Lea Trudell are the winners of the 2014 Easter Children’s Competition Egg-to-Knee race,” the coach yelled into his megaphone.  “Come get your trophy!”

            Lea was happy to win, but somehow it just didn’t feel right.  They had only won because of that nice boy.  Ruby took Lea’s hand and led her up onto the stage.  Lea took the trophy, but whispered to Ruby, “I think that boy should have it.  We couldn’t have won without him.”

            “Well…” Ruby whispered back, “…I guess.”  Lea could tell that she didn’t want to give up the trophy.

            Lea smiled at the coach and said, “Just a minute.”  She got off the stage, holding the trophy, and ran over to where the boy who had helped them was sitting.  “Here,” she said, holding out the shiny trophy, “you deserve this.”

            He looked up at the trophy.  “Really?”

            “Yeah.”

            “Thanks,” he said, with a smile on his face.

            “Looks like we have a new winner!” the coach shouted into his megaphone.  “Leo Harrison!”

            Lea felt very happy.  She knew that she had done the right thing.


APRIL 2014 - POETRY MONTH

Melissa Flores, 5th Grade
Sheridan Way Elementary School
Council Meeting: April 21, 2014

Melissa Flores is a music student in Project Harmony at Sheridan Way Elementary School.  She displayed her talent by performing a piece of an Italian opera called Santa Lucia on her flute after reading her two poems below.

"Sheridan Way"

It is important to say
How much I love Sheridan Way
I had the BEST teachers all the way through
The New West Harmony Project and Proyecto Jarocho instructors, too
So much support, knowledge, and love
Caring and sharing from all those mentioned above
I am who I am because of them
A very good student and lifelong friend

"Project Harmony Haiku"

Proud to Play Music
The Rhythm and Melody
Friends and Family


WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

Brenda Garcia, 5th Grade
Montalvo Elementary School
Council Meeting: March 3, 2014

"Shirley Temple Black"

 

 Shirley Temple started her acting career at the age of three. she later then received an academy award for outstanding performances. Even during the Great Depression Shirley Temple was still viewed by an adoring crowd. Temple even managed to outshine her fellow costars even if she was just a child! In 1949 at the age of 21 she retired from her acting career.

Ten years later, Temple used her acting skills for the next chapter of her life she ran for congress but, lost. Although she lost the election ,she was still determined to help others. In 1969 Shirley Temple became a delegate at the United Nations for many important conferences and Summits on cooperative treaties and human environment. Temple later became the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States in 1976.     Let’s take a moment to highlight her title, the first female chief of protocol of the United States of America. She later became a U.S Ambassador in the Republic of Ghana 1974-1976, followed by chief of protocol of the U.S Foreign Affairs Department lastly, served as a U.S Ambassador of Czech and Slovak Federal Republic in 1989.She advanced foreign policy goals and created an environment for successful diplomacy.  Trough out her political career she, also served many organizations. For example, council of Foreign Relations, the council of American Ambassadors, for the American-China Society, and the U.S. Citizen Space Task Force to name a few.  Temple also received many honorary decorates.

Besides her career, Shirley Temple was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She had three children and a granddaughter, and was quoted saying “to raise a wonderful family was my biggest accomplishment.”She died at the age of 85 in February 10, 2014 in Woodside, California. I am inspired by her determination, perseverance, and discipline. Through her film career, and political service career. She changed the world, and the world lost a great female role model on February 10, 2014. Thank you Shirley Temple for paving a way for me and other young girls. And thank you city of Ventura  for giving me this honor.