With images of Mercer Island projected onto a screen in the local St. Monica School gymnasium, eager students assembled on the floor and listened attentively while Mayor Salim Nice and city councilmember Jake Jacobson discussed city operations.
During the civics event on Feb. 28, first-through-fifth-graders also shared their knowledge about Mercer Island as Nice and Jacobson touched upon budgeting, first responders, parks, Island safety, Youth and Family Services, Summer Celebration and more.
“Our students appreciated learning directly from their community leaders. Educating future Mercer Island leaders about how government works locally is so important,” said Jamie North, St. Monica School advancement director, adding that two cool facts the students gleaned from the event were that the city possesses a pair of water towers and a dive team.
According to North, first-graders noted that the mayor is a nice person and learned that he doesn’t drive a limousine to work. The youngsters enjoyed high-fiving Nice at the event, as well.
While Nice manages a hefty daily schedule, he jumped at the chance to interact with the St. Monica School students.
“The students’ engagement and curiosity heartened me, and I was blown away by how much they knew about Mercer Island. Truly the highlight of my week and a fantastic opportunity to see the future leaders of our community and beyond,” said Nice, who also put in some vital speaking time with Island Park Elementary School students on Jan. 29.
Jacobson added about the instructive assembly: “I told them that they represented the future of not only our community but also our nation, and that thanks to their teachers they have the opportunity to hone their intellects.”
Olivia Lippens, who is involved with the St. Monica School parent club and has three children at the school, said the students gained a valuable civics education at the event that ties in with their studies about civilizations and governments throughout the course of history.
“The mayor’s presentation really brought to life how our city government works and the role of city government in all of our lives. A great lesson for our kids, for sure,” she said.
Added first-grader Isabelle Rudolph: “He’s like the president of Mercer Island.”
Bringing the event full circle for Nice, first-grade teacher Meghan Wright said the mayor kicked off the assembly by telling his story of growing up on the Island and meeting his future wife at St. Monica School confirmation classes.
“He told the kids they could sit beside their future husband or wife. Immediately all their heads were turned to the person to their left and right with super puzzled faces,” said Wright, a St. Monica School graduate and Island resident.
Launched in 1960 and initially staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark and two lay teachers, St. Monica School offers a Catholic classical liberal arts education curriculum for its current enrollment of 250 students from preschool through grade 10, according to its website.
The school is located at 4320 87th Ave. SE. For more information on the history of the school, church and parish, visit https://www.stmonicasea.org/