Nashua 5th grader to serve as Kid Governor

NASHUA – Sunset Heights Elementary School students and staff members packed the cafeteria for an assembly on Wednesday.

The occasion?

To celebrate the election of fifth-grader Lola Giannelli as New Hampshire Kid Governor, of course.

Giannelli ran for kid governor among other fifth-graders at the school. Each student running for the position focused his or her campaign on a single issue.

Fifth-grade teacher and New Hampshire Kid Governor Coordinator Luane Genest said the program is part of the New Hampshire Institute for Civics Education, in collaboration with Saint Anselm College. Genest said a similar endeavor has taken place in Connecticut and Oregon since 2015, but this is the first year for the program in the Granite State.

“I think it’s important because we need to make sure that kids are civic-minded and become responsible adults, voting adults,” Genest said, “It teaches them collaboration, cooperation. They learn research skills – they learn how to work together to do their research.”

Genest said she hopes other schools across New Hampshire will also get their fifth-graders involved. Her vision is for each child to serve one term and have a desk at the New Hampshire State House.

Giannelli will also attend events throughout the state representing Kid Governor and her cause.

Giannelli’s cause was to combat animal cruelty. She worked with an animal shelter to help animals in need prior to the election. Giannelli said she witnessed animal cruelty online, which fueled her desire to campaign against it.

“I’ve seen it happen online,” Giannelli said, “I love animals and I don’t think it’s right.”

Co-Chair of Saint Anselm’s Civic Engagement Committee and Chief of Staff for Kid Governor Melanie Fey said she will help Giannelli by opening a blog to provide updates on her work to combat animal cruelty, and to help set up events and promote Giannelli’s message. Fey expressed her appreciation for Giannelli’s enthusiasm for her cause.

“I think she’s wonderful. She’s really passionate about her subject,” Fey said, “Everything she is going to do; she kind of wants to hit the ground running and I think that’s great to see.”

Fey said Giannelli’s inauguration will take place Jan. 18.