Summit student wins essay contest to become ‘Mayor for the Day’

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SUMMIT, NJ — Lawton C. Johnson Middle School eighth-grade student Yumin Yang won an essay contest in Summit to become the ‘Mayor for a Day’ on Tuesday, April 18.

This effort was a part of the New Jersey local government week, established throughout the state by the New Jersey League of Municipalities, which gave each municipality freedom to choose how they use the week. Summit organized an essay-writing contest for eighth-graders in the city’s middle schools to submit essays and potentially become the Summit mayor for the day.

Yumin was then honored with the powers of mayor at the latest Summit Common Council meeting.

“The highlight so far of my day and week has been spending time with ‘Mayor for the Day,’ essay winner and eighth-grader Yumin Yang,” Summit Mayor Nora Radest said at the meeting. “We started the day when I picked up the ‘mayor’ from the school and took him to City Hall, where we went to the Division of Public Works garage and delivered doughnuts to the workers.”

Yumin spent his time meeting with the various leaders of Summit, from the city clerk to police and fire captains, learning about the city.

“We met with Summit Fire Department Chief Eric Evers, Deputy Chief Paul Imbimbo and the police captain, Ryan Peters,” Radest said. “We also spent time at lunch with our city clerk, Rosemary Licatese, who explained the inner workings of the city of Summit. He then had a tour of the police (head)quarters and City Hall before returning to school.”

Additionally, Yumin worked on legislation with the communications staff in Summit that he would later present at the council meeting.

“Tonight, he will be sitting with me to give an update that he worked on with the communications staff earlier today,” Radest said.

Radest praised Yang for his commitment to the role of mayor of Summit, even for a day.

“It was a pleasure to meet you Yang. You are a very impressive young man who took his role as mayor seriously and used your platform to champion a cause that is important to you,” the mayor said. “I have no doubt that Yumin will continue to make a positive impact in our community and beyond.”

Yumin then received his award for winning the contest and read his essay to Summit residents during the council meeting.

“If I were given the opportunity to be ‘Mayor for the Day,’ I would create a day dedicated to community service and multicultural celebrations,” Yumin read from his essay. “Many people sometimes forget how fortunate they are to be living in Summit, New Jersey. It has beautiful parks, a spacious library and a great public education system.”

Yumin highlighted the diversity of Summit to emphasize how to best utilize that quality for initiatives and events throughout the city.

“Residents of Summit are also diverse, with a higher percentage of foreign-born residents,” Yumin said. “The best way to make Summit an even better place is to have more opportunities for community service and cultural representation.”

Yumin then spoke on his personal experience giving back to the community, illustrating why he is so dedicated to community service.

“As a member of the Boy Scouts, I have had the greatest pleasure of doing all kinds of community service,” Yumin said, “ranging from packing sandwiches for the less fortunate, to maintaining the infrastructure of downtown Summit.”

Yumin then spoke on his goal for his community service day proposal and how it would benefit the community.

“This day would focus on the same type of service, except on a much larger scale,” Yumin said. “This day will generate both community spirit and promote diversity. This plan is logistically viable for this city and would be a fun event for citizens to enjoy and learn from.”

“The planning portion is relatively simple: We can contact multiple for and non-profit organizations for specific events,” Yumin said. “The Summit Free Public Library might need help reshelving or labeling books. Martin’s Brook Park could have a trash cleanup. Just keep in mind that this event needs enough variety and options to accommodate community turnout.”

After finishing his essay, Yumin then sat with Radest for the rest of the council meeting.

Photos by Javon Ross