Amherst Regional High School Junior and frequent Amherst Indy contributor Julian Hynes was honored at the State House on April 26 along with co-authors Ja’liyah Santiago and Adniley Velez, 8th graders at Holyoke Community Charter School, as winners of a statewide student essay competition. The student winners and their families were present for the unveiling of the portraits that will hang in Governor Maura T. Healey’s and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll’s offices.
Governor Healey will hang an empyy gold frame in her ceremonial office to inspire young people to envision themselves in it. This idea was proposed in a collaborative essay submitted by Julian Hynes, an 11th grader at Amherst-Pelham Regional High School, and Ja’liyah Santiago and Adniley Velez, 8th graders at Holyoke Community Charter School, titled “Inspiring Change and Dangerous Hope: Unequal Representation in the Commonwealth.” Read the winning essay here.
“Our proposal is to break from tradition, to hang nothing but an empty frame to remind you that there will be large groups of people that remain underrepresented, voiceless, and invisible,” wrote Hynes, Santiago, and Velez. “Look forward not back for your inspiration. Look at the young, the poor, the people of color, and the ones who need the most help. Look at the empty frame and then around the table and ask, ‘Who is not represented here?’ Then, break free from the symbolic fetters that bind you and invite them.”
“The State House is the People’s House – and symbols matter. I was inspired by this submission from Julian, Ja’liyah and Adniley, who considered how they themselves could be the face of leadership in our state. This frame serves as a reminder of those who aren’t always reflected or heard in the halls of power,” said Governor Healey. “When people come into this office, I want them to envision themselves in that frame. For me, it will remind me of the young people who are looking to our administration right now, and of our commitment to ensuring that all voices are heard.”
Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll will hang the portrait of former Acting Governor Jane Swift, who was also present for Wednesday’s unveiling. Swift was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1998 and rose to Acting Governor in 2001 when Governor Cellucci resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to Canada. She was the first woman to serve as Governor in Massachusetts history. She was instrumental in cementing Massachusetts’ role as the nationwide leader in education and has continued her advocacy to strengthen our schools, in addition to transforming her family farm in Williamstown into an education and rescue center.
“Governor Healey and I have long been inspired by Governor Swift, and it was heartwarming to see so many students feel the same,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “She helped pave the way for us to serve as the first all-women team in Massachusetts history, and she inspired a lasting legacy of educational excellence in our state. I’m honored to hang her portrait in my office.”
“We’d like to thank the more than 100 students who submitted thoughtful essays to this contest. It was certainly a hard decision to make, but we learned a lot from reading each one – and we know the students did too,” said Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler. “We’re grateful to all of the educators, administrators and family members who supported the students in submitting their essays and helped us get the word out about the contest.”