Among the fresh faces at Wellesley Town Meeting this spring will be 15-year-olds Ivy Wang and Skye Jacobs. Their faces will be familiar in Precinct B, though, because the Wellesley High School sophomores went door-to-door to meet with many residents in the lead-up to this past Tuesday’s town election.
“It was very important for me to meet my constituents face-to-face. I walked every corner of Precinct B to hand-deliver flyers.,” Wang says. “Along the way, I spoke with amazing Wellesley residents (and got a good workout). I was met with a huge amount of support and encouragement from the people I spoke with in person and from the people who contacted me after receiving my flyer. People told me ‘we need students like you to speak out’ and ‘it’s so great that you’re walking around and speaking to us.’ It was an incredible experience!”
She credits family and friends for helping to spread the word of her campaign, and for keeping her up-to-date on town issues.
Jacobs added: “I did a hybrid of handing out flyers door-to-door and mailing them. I’m also appreciative of my neighbors, who were very helpful in getting my name out there through word of mouth!” In receiving support and encouragement from those she met, the lifelong Wellesley resident says, “I experienced a true sense of community and investment in bettering our town…”
Wang ran for a seat at Town Meeting “to find a way to further connect the student voice to town government at a higher level than what I had previously done in school.” She is already a member of Wellesley High School Student Congress, the Wellesley School Committee student advisory, Wellesley High’s swim team, and the Wellesley Public School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee.
Wang first heard about the Town Meeting opportunity—that there was no age restriction—when she attended a League of Women Voters of Wellesley meeting in December.
Jacobs embraced the opportunity as well upon learning she could run.
“I have always had an interest in politics, and I believe local government is an effective vehicle for change. With such a small constituency, progress is easier to implement,” she said. “Plus, local politics directly impacts our lives.”
Jacobs is also involved in a couple of social justice groups: DEI Student Council and Young Ethnic Scholars, an anti-racism club at Wellesley High. She’s currently working with the Wellesley Middle School English Department to introduce an LGBTQ+ novel into the sixth grade curriculum. Sewing and knitting are among Jacobs’ other interests.
Town Meeting articles that interest Jacobs include numbers 11 and 21. Article 11 proposes the Town ensure the Special Education Reserve Fund can pay for “unanticipated or unbudgeted costs of special education.” She says “I firmly believe all students deserve an equal access to education. It is important to address structural inequalities in our school system through funding like this to achieve equitable education.” On Article 21, on funding LED installations at the high school, Jacobs says “As a community, it is our responsibility to take every opportunity to protect our environment. Utilizing more sustainable energy sources is a crucial aspect of this process.”
Articles 38 and 44 have caught Wang’s attention.
Article 38 focuses on sustainable buildings. “Climate change is a major obstacle in the entire world. Making buildings more sustainable is an essential step for Wellesley in the battle against climate change.”
Article 44 is a citizen petition that focuses on prioritizing Academic Excellence in Wellesley Public Schools. “As someone who has gone through the WPS system since Kindergarten, I have a student perspective in the WPS curriculum and course load. In order to promote Academic Excellence, Wellesley needs to have a clear definition of that term first. It is important to take note that Academic Excellence consists of more than just test scores and AP statistics and pursuit of excellence should be emphasized,” she says, adding that residents should feel free to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org to share their thoughts and concerns.
While Wang and Jacobs aren’t the first students to have won Town Meeting seats, they do hope their participation in the town government process will inspire their peers. Wang says she’s looking forward to the meeting, and plans to share what she learns with others.
“I hope I can use my position to promote Town Meeting and encourage other Wellesley High School (or Middle School) students to run in the next election!” she says.