Elisavet “Ellie” Mendez, a resident of Monroe and fifth-grade student at Monroe Elementary School, was elected as Kid Governor. Credit: Screengrab

Sitting next to her friends at Monroe Elementary School, fifth grader Elisavet “Ellie” Mendez didn’t know she was about to become the next CT Kid Governor. 

Coordinators of the CT Kid Governor program – a civics program created by the Connecticut Democracy Center – kept Mendez’s election a secret until the big announcement on Tuesday, when Mendez was surrounded by her classmates and family as she received the news. 

Students chanted Mendez’s name as she made her way from the audience to a front row seat before receiving a certificate in honor of her win. 

Mendez, along with six other students, ran for CT Kid Governor with a platform. Mendez’s platform is to raise awareness of anxiety and depression in youth. 

“So excited to be here standing in front of you all as your next 2023 CT Kid Governor,” Mendez said. 

After thanking those participating fifth graders across the state  – more than 9,400 of them voted in the election – Mendez also made sure to acknowledge her fellow students at Monroe Elementary, as well as her teachers and family. She said she looks forward to working with the other finalists who will now be her cabinet members.

“Each and every day kids are struggling with this in and out of school. Many kids need the opportunity to learn how to cope with anxiety and how to seek help from depression,” Mendez said. “You never know what each person is going through and most of the time, it’s the one who smiles the most.” 

She said the number of youths afflicted with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed after the pandemic. According to her campaign video, Mendez said nearly 5.6 million kids are diagnosed with anxiety and 4.2 million kids are diagnosed with depression.

In addition to providing strategies to reduce stress and anxiety, Mendez hopes to advance efforts to provide ways for kids to communicate their feelings with a trusted adult and create online resources with uplifting messages for children. 

Nichole Pitruzzello, Connecticut’s Kid Governor State Coordinator, said Mendez will work with her cabinet, which will meet at the Kid Governor office at the Old State House in Hartford. 

“And you will support each other and work together to make a difference in our state,” Pitruzzello said.  Mendez will also work with other Kid Governors in Georgia, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Oregon. 

The other finalists who are now members of the Connecticut Kid Governor cabinet are: Aaron Enyong, of  CREC University of Hartford Magnet School in West Hartford; Jacob Garay, of CREC Discovery Academy in Wethersfield; Liliana Magazine, of Meadowside Elementary School in Milford; Maxence Clementine, of Long Meadow Elementary School in Middlebury; Scarlet Beaulieu of Andover Elementary School, and Shaan Patel of Pomperaug Elementary School in Southbury.

To view all the candidates’ videos, go to http://ct.kidgovernor.org/candidates2022