4th Annual Ambassadorship Day Brings Students and Officials Together

HYANNIS – More than 60 high school students from across the Cape were invited to take part in yesterday’s 4th annual Ambassadorship Day at the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.

The event included state and local, elected and appointed officials including Town Managers Bud Dunham of Sandwich and Mark Ells of Barnstable, State Senator Julian Cyr, District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, State Reps Sarah Peake and Tim Whelan, as well as selectmen and school committee members.

Students asked the panelists about why they serve their communities and the challenges they face.

Barbara Dunn, a former teacher, and current school committee member said she wanted to bring the perspective of an educator to her board.

She said one of the biggest challenges they have is the budget.

“It’s a pretty big challenge to deal with a limited amount of funding,” she said.

Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School Committee member Joe Tierney agreed that the budget is a “really hard challenge” for the board.

He also said one of the challenges is dealing with social media and the fact misinformation can be pervasive.

“Get involved in your college government programs,” said Tierney, who encouraged the students to be involved in their communities.

Yarmouth Selectman Mark Forest said elected officials don’t get to hear enough from young people or hear their perspective on issues. “We need more young voices,” he said.

“The challenge we have is how to meet the growing needs of the students with fewer and fewer resources available to the schools,” he said.

“Find a way to get engaged,” he said.

Fourth Barnstable State Representative Sarah Peake talked about her journey from practicing law in New York City to arriving in Provincetown 25 years ago to buy a bed and breakfast.

She also became involved in local politics and local volunteer efforts.

“It really helped me become part of that community,” she said.

Peake said her pathway to elective office actually started when she was in 9th grade.

“Think seriously about serving your community,” she said.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe talked about how the job has changed over the years, specifically the many social issues the office now has to address.

O’Keefe said it’s not just about getting a police report on a criminal act any more, but much more intervention and diversion to avoid young people from getting criminal records.

“The most important thing for a young person to do is get an education,” he said.

“Make the most of it. It will set the parameters for how well you do in life,” he said.

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