By Gwendolyn Fruehauf, SGI Student Reporter
On Friday, May 19, New York State Senator Patrick Gallivan was in Springville and took a short detour to the high school, intent on using his personal experience to inform SGI senior students.
It all started as an idea that originated from the AP government class. Through their teacher, Shawn Bullard, who reached out to the senator, they were successful in arranging a time for the senator to speak.
Although Gallivan was only allotted a short span of time, he worked to make the most of that time, speaking to the gathered students about a variety of issues and experiences.
He discussed the overall function of state government, breaking down the branches of state government, the budget, and the legislative process. Gallivan also spoke to his audience about his experience as an Erie County Sheriff, how he came to be a state senator, and his plans for the future.
Students were allowed to ask questions toward the end of the assembly.
Erin Jurkowski, an attendant at the assembly, expressed her wishes that the question and answer period had been longer. “Any time you bring someone in who is actually your official, you are not learning out of a textbook anymore,” she explained. “You are in real time, seeing what they do.”
Jurkowski’s classmate, Josh Moscato, also commented on the value of an experience such as this. “I liked that you could interface one-on-one, to some extent, with someone who knows about politics….who has been there,” he said. “I thought it a valuable experience.”
James Bialasik, the high school principal, noted the importance and success of the senator’s visit. “I think his entire talk was very informative….He gave [the students] a lot of good information and did a good job of giving some very concrete examples that really illustrated how government functions,” he explained.
He continued, “It’s always a good idea for students, especially our seniors who are considered adults in the eyes of the state of New York, to put a face to the lawmakers who actually work in Albany on their behalf. Senator Gallivan represents 300,000 people in the state of New York, and it’s important that students know who he is.”
The senator’s goal was to inform the students. And he did. However, he also looked to call on the students, encouraging them to think about their futures and the decisions that make those futures possible.
Bialasik acknowledged this, saying, “He ended with a really positive message about students’ day-to-day decisions and how those decisions really matter. Even something that seems miniscule can really have a big impact on your life. I think what he was trying to get across, especially for seniors who are going out into the real world, is you have to be really careful in one sense that you’re not making decisions that could jeopardize your future, but on the other hand, you still want to make decisions that have a really positive impact on your future. If you make the right decisions…that can really carry you far in life.”