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Student Spotlight: Senior Becomes Parkland Mayor for the Day Sparked by Interest in Public Policy

Lily Kalandjian, a North Broward Preparatory School senior never would have predicated she’d ever be interested in politics until a class at NBPS changed all of that.  An Economics class with Mr. Maltorolo enlightened her to how our economy “affects everything” (in her words), and how it influences our standing in the world.  That class tied in beautifully with Mr. Hall’s Global Politics, and Lily suddenly found herself fascinated by economics, and how it determines so much that plays out on the political world stage.

With her newfound interest in public policy, law, and economy, Lily started following people in public office as well as municipalities on social media and started seeking out opportunities to build on her growing interest.  She says her college advisor, Karen Siegel also helped her find out about some incredibly valuable opportunities with which to get involved.

Last summer, as one of 300 girls admitted to the program, she took part in the American Legion Auxiliary Girl’s State up in Tallahassee – an experiential learning program that provides a unique opportunity for young women to learn the basic principles of American government, and strives to instill democracy and patriotism.  Collaborating with other young women from around the state, they wrote bills to implement change on matters they felt needed to be addressed.  Subjects ranged from animal cruelty, to the banning of plastic bags, to the red tide crisis.  She found that one of the most fascinating parts of the experience was working with young women from all over the state, and how surprising it was to learn that even within the state, people from different regions have different needs, priorities and viewpoints.  They spent three days in the Capitol and were “elected” to be senators, members of the House of Representatives, and the even as “Governor” to experience those roles. 

The experience energized Lily, so a few months ago, when she came across an opportunity on Twitter to apply to be Parkland’s Mayor of the Month, she knew she had to apply.  She has a lot of respect for Parkland’s Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, especially as a woman in politics.  Lily submitted her resume, application, and an essay explaining why she felt she was qualified and was overjoyed to be selected as  October’s “Mayor of the Month” for the City of Parkland.  With this great honor, Lily had the pleasure of working one-on-one with Mayor Hunschofsky, who happens to be very interested in hearing the youth perspective on issues that the community is currently facing.  One topic of controversy is vaping, and the City of Parkland is considering banning it, or raising the legal age limit to 21.  Lily has contributed valuable insights from the perspective of a high school student.  She’s also taken part in some of the City’s special events, such as the Parkland Dash, and has attended commission meetings where community decisions are being voted upon.  The experience has given her an incredible behind-the-scenes view of local government at work. 

When she’s not busy just being a High School senior and the Executive VP on NB’s Student Government (overseeing all clubs on campus), she’s attending meetings as a member of Ted Deutch’s Youth Cabinet.  She and her fellow cabinet members meet with Congressman Deutch once a month and discuss current issues that are on the table to address with Congress.  They offer input, and Congressman Deutch takes their ideas and suggestions into serious consideration. 

With the passion for public policy Lily has developed in the last few years, she’s interested in pursuing a college major in Political Science, and perhaps down the road – law.  She’s applying to the University of Florida and Florida State, to name a few.  She feels everyone should learn about economics and how it ties in with policy. 

We asked Lily what issues are of particular concern to her.  She cited climate change and gun control.  She states, "We need to take steps towards climate action now before the effects of climate change become irreversible and threaten our future."

As someone who lives in Parkland, she clearly has a strong viewpoint on gun control.  Lily states, “(It is) a national issue that has gained attention by too many tragedies. It needs to be stopped now, so people don't need to be afraid of going to the movies, the mall, or even school."

When asked if we’ll see her name on a voting ballot anytime soon, she replied, “That’s what I’m not sure about yet!  I might be interested in law.  I think college will help me find my path.” Lily has contributed so much to the North Broward Preparatory School and to the community, we have no doubt that she will make her mark and we will be the better for it.

To learn more about our extraordinary community of learners click here. 

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