GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Twenty-five students from Alexander Hamilton Jr./Sr. High School in the Elmsford Union Free School District got the opportunity to witness Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address on Jan. 10 at SUNY Purchase College.
The students came away from the experience with questions about the governor’s budget proposals and were disappointed that he hadn’t addressed issues concerning K-12 education, according to a release from the district.
AHHS Principal Marc Baiocco and social studies teacher selected the group, which consisted of students from the 11th and 12th grades.
The governor’s address was part of a three-day State of the State tour to unveil his plan on a number of issues, including education, property tax reduction, tourism initiatives, infrastructure projects and more, the release said.
Senior Lara Malaver had the opportunity to see the governor speak last year during a campaign event in support of former presidential nominee and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and felt the tone of his address was markedly different.
“There was more urgency to his speech,” she said.
Toward the end of the hour-long address, Cuomo emphasized New York State’s commitment as part of the “New York Promise” to a number of progressive issues, including immigrant and the rights of women, gays and the LGBTQ community.
“We are the progressive capital of the nation," said Cuomo. "We are a progressive people. We believe no New Yorker and no American should ever be subject to discrimination, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination.”
Much of the draw for the Elmsford contingent was the governor’s expected comments on the proposed free college plan he announced about a week ago.
Leslie Aguilero, a senior, intends to enroll in a pre-med program at SUNY Stony Brook and wondered if the governor’s college proposal would impact her at the undergraduate or graduate level.
The students wanted to know how such a plan would be paid for and other details regarding eligibility.
They were also eager, however, to hear him talk about issues affecting younger students.
“We wanted to hear from him about policies that might affect K-12 education,” said Ryan Alicea, a 12th-grader.
Students were surprised that there was no mention of Common Core or other education mandates given the fact that students from various high schools across Westchester were also at the event, the release said.
“Any chance students get to hear the governor speak is a learning opportunity,” Baiocco said. “The students enjoyed the speech and were able to articulate their points of view when we debriefed following the address. They had many questions, which was an indication of their interest in the topics discussed.”