“If I were mayor, I would remodel schools. I would do this because some schools in Baltimore City are not very nice. Some of them do not have any security cameras, desks, bookshelves, and no computers. If schools had these things, the students would receive a better education. I would also build more malls. This will make it easier for people to go shopping because cars and sedans are expensive. If they were able to walk, it wouldn’t cost people anything. I would put in more street cameras. Then the streets would be safer for everybody. Finally, I would plant more green for the environment. This is what I would do if I were mayor.” —An excerpt from Winning Essay by 4th grader Kiyia Johnson
Kiyia Johnson is interested in one-day becoming mayor. The fourth-grade Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School student has clear and simple ideas of what she would do if she sat in the city’s highest elected position.
Those ideas, which included having citizens sign petitions, remodeling schools, raising taxes, planting to promote a greener environment, and installing street cameras, resulted in her selection as one of the regional winners of the Maryland Municipal League’s 2013 “If I were Mayor, I would…” statewide essay contest.
Kiyia, along with the other winners were recognized by Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown, received a Governor’s Citation, an award plaque and $100 cash in a private ceremony on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at the Maryland State House. Following the ceremony, the students along with their parents and teachers enjoyed a boat ride on the Harbor Queen.
“I just thought about what would be best and better for Baltimore City,” said Kiyia. “It took me about a week to write it.”
The essay contest challenges fourth graders across Maryland to think like a mayor and share their vision for the future of their local municipal government. The contest was open to any Maryland student enrolled in the fourth grade during the 2012-2013 school year.
“I was surprised that I won,” said Kiyia. “At first, I thought I had gotten into trouble.”
The contest was sponsored by the Maryland Municipal League in partnership with the Maryland Mayors’ Association; the Injured Worker’s Insurance Fund and the Local Government Insurance Trust.
Essays were judged on: essay relation to contest topic; displayed knowledge about municipal government and the role of a mayor; creativity; and proper use of grammar.
“When I was writing the essay, I was thinking about [how] long it takes to take a cab or sedan to the mall because it’s so far and my parents don’t have a car,” said Kiyia. “That’s why I said I would build more malls in the city. There’s also not as much green in the city as there is in the county. That’s why I would plant more grass and plants. It would make the city look much better.”
Megan Jacobson is Kiyia’s social studies teacher. “This was our first time entering a contest,” said Jacobson who also teaches English and language arts. “Kiyia’s win has created a sense of encouragement in the classroom. All of the kids are now extremely interested in participating in writing contests in the future. I wanted the students to walk away with sense of community and the city.”
Jacobson continued, “They don’t have as many malls and supermarkets as you see in the county. Kiyia got deeper into meaning and importance of community and city. Everything she put in the essay she applied to her own life, and why it was important to her.”
The Maryland Municipal League is a voluntary, non-profit, nonpartisan association that works to strengthen and support municipal government through advocacy and the development of effective leadership.
Scott A. Hancock, who is the executive director of the Maryland Municipal League said, “This contest challenges students to creatively share their thoughts on being mayor and engages them in civic duty from a young age, which is incredibly important as we look toward the future of our cities and towns.”