Amidon-Bowen students Za’Mari Wilson, Ameya Johnson, Taniya Washington and Zy’Ree Maddox-Mills in the hearing room of the John A. Wilson Building; Photo: Grace Hu

On Monday, Oct. 15, four Amidon-Bowen Elementary School students testified before the D.C. Council Committee on Education as part of a hearing on issues facing D.C. youth.

At 4 p.m., the third graders arrived at the historic John A. Wilson Building, which houses the Executive Office of the Mayor and the D.C. Council, with their teacher Ms. Kelly Harper. Dressed in formal attire, the students walked past portraits of former and current council members to the hearing room, where they spoke about the need to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programming and technology for students at Amidon-Bowen. At age 8, the Amidon-Bowen scholars were among the youngest who testified. Approximately ten schools sent students to testify.

Below are some excerpts from the students’ testimonies:

Zy’Ree Maddox-Mills

“I love STEM and STEM class because it is where I discovered that I want to become a volcanologist, which is someone who studies volcanoes. Please increase the funding for classes like STEM for our school so that future scientists like me can have the chance to build my exposure to STEM.”

Ameya Johnson

“As a young woman of color, it is important that I have the chance to learn about different ways that I can become a doctor. I loved that we got to build robots and do fun science experiments. One day, I want to become a pediatric surgeon, and I need practice with experimenting with science so that one day I can help kids like me become healthy.”

Za’Mari Wilson

“I want to become a civil engineer, and STEM would help me build the skills to know how to lead my team effectively and build amazing structures. Plus, you never know if I’ll become the next Albert Einstein!”

Taniya Washington

“Having reliable technology is important so that I can master typing, which is a skill that I will need for school, my future career, and life… We are the future of Washington, D.C., and we hope that you will help us reach our goals and achieve our dreams.”

Some parents watched the hearing live via an online broadcast. Kenya and Arkeem Matthews said, “Watching Ameya on live television advocate for STEM programming for her school was not only an amazing accomplishment for herself, but for us as her parents. Proud is an understatement. We are overwhelmed with joy because it’s confirmation that we are raising an independent, fearless young leader, who is not afraid to allow her voice to be heard, which is our ultimate goal as her parents.”

A tweet with a photo of the four scholars was retweeted by Mayor Bowser and viewed over 5,700 times on Twitter. After the hearing, Ms. Harper said, “Supporting my students’ burgeoning advocacy muscles is important to me as an educator. Our first unit focused on the power of democracy and being an informed and engaged citizen. While my students are still too young to vote, I wanted them to internalize the power of advocating for themselves and their community. Witnessing these petite powerhouses speak to the D.C. Council Education Committee was inspiring; they spoke with eloquence, passion, and courage. I hope that this experience ignited a lifelong passion for advocacy!”

BY Grace Hu

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