By VASHTI HARRIS
EAST BRUNSWICK — Ready with pencils, paper and a podium, members of the Irwin Elementary School Student Council met with Mayor Kevin McEvoy at their school on Dec. 7 to present their proposal on how to get an unnamed road named Irwin Place.
Then, at the mayor’s suggestion, they attended the Township Council meeting on Dec. 12 to further discuss their ideas.
The road that the 40 fourth and fifth graders are inquiring about is located behind Irwin Elementary. Since the road has no name, residents informally refer to it as the mall access road, due to the fact that the road eventually leads travelers to the Brunswick Square Mall on Route 18.
“One of the things that people noticed was that when they were trying to give directions to our new parking lot [which is located behind the school], it was a challenge because the road does not have a name, so we thought that we should help give it a name,” Principal JoAnn Chmielowicz said during the special event on Dec. 7.
Along with Chmielowicz and their teachers Jennifer Graf and Ashley Black, the students gave McEvoy a warm greeting for diving into their proposal and questions. McEvoy also formally thanked the students for inviting him to their school and expressed his admiration for all of the students’ efforts to get the unnamed road named.
“We the students of Irwin School’s Student Council hereby request the naming of the currently unnamed access road into our school’s back entrance. In 1957, our school was named in honor of Kathryn Newmeyer Irwin, an intelligent and influential teacher and principal in East Brunswick’s school district. Mrs. Irwin was an important part of East Brunswick’s school system and its history, as she dedicated over 50 years of teaching and influencing students and teachers,” the proposal stated.
Following their proposal, members from the Student Council took turns asking McEvoy informational questions in order to learn how they would go about getting the road named Irwin Place.
McEvoy gave the students a three-step plan on Dec. 7.
“First, you must put together a petition that includes the name you wish to call the street, the of where you would like the sign to be and the benefits that the street sign will have for travelers,” McEvoy said.
He then recommended that the students get a total of 40 signatures, 20 being from them and another 20 from other people, like their parents, who support their campaign in naming the road, and present it to the Township Council on Dec. 12, which was fulfilled.
“I am extremely excited and thrilled for the students because it’s showing them that they can make a difference. It’s great that they have a voice, and it is wonderful to see them get so involved,” Graf said.
“I think what is most important is teaching our children about civic responsibility and how our local government works. Many children believe that because they are children that their voices don’t matter, so we want to show them that their opinions are just as valid,” Chmielowicz said.
Those opinions were definitely validated during the council meeting, as Chmielowicz, Graf, teacher Ashley Black, parents and students presented their petition and a total of 250 signatures to the mayor and council.
After giving their petition to Town Council President Michael Hughes, three students gave a brief presentation explaining why they wish to name the road Irwin Place and credited the idea of naming the road to Chmielowicz.
Hughes ordered a motion and the Student Council’s request to name the unnamed road Irwin Place was approved.
After the council approved the students’ petition, the entire courtroom gave the students a big round of applause.
Contact Vashti Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.