WIndsor fifth-grader takes over as kid governor

·3 min read

Jan. 21—Makhi Ettienne-Modeste, a fifth-grader at John F. Kennedy School, officially became Connecticut's Kid Governor during an Inauguration ceremony today.

Makhi, who was elected Kid Governor in Nov. 2021, took the Oath of Office during the ceremony at the Old State House. His six-member Cabinet was also be sworn in.

"I am excited to begin working with my Cabinet on my Protecting Our Pets platform," Makhi said after being sworn in. "I hope to make you all proud."

State Rep. Jane Garibay, who spoke during the ceremony, said she looked forward to collaborating with Makhi and his Cabinet. State government work isn't flashy, Garibay said, but it's the kind of work that has "real impact on our friends, families, and neighbors."

"Windsor has been in the finals a couple of times as part of the Cabinet, but Makhi brought it home," Garibay said.

In November, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz announced Makhi as the winner to unsuspecting JFK students, who gathered for a "top secret" school wide assembly in the auditorium.

Makhi's jubilance transitioned into tears as he received hugs from faculty and family members, finally burying his face into his mother's midsection as she hugged and congratulated him. Makhi's mother, Joy-Lynn Hardy, said the tears "just kept flowing."

"I was crying because I was like, 'Oh my God!' I didn't know this was going to happen," Makhi said following the announcement.

Makhi is the seventh student to be elected Connecticut Kid Governor, and the first from Windsor. He was among seven finalists in the statewide election that began on Nov. 1 and ran through Election Day.

Mahki's's campaign focused on preventing animal cruelty. He said the motivation behind his platform came from a disturbing video he watched about animal cruelty, an issue that felt pertinent because he has two dogs at home, including a pit bull.

JFK Principal Jennifer Michno said during the assembly that "Makhi has really shown that when you believe something and you take a stand in what you believe in, you can make a difference." Makhi's platform of preventing animal cruelty aligns with JFK's mission to teach students how to be caring and compassionate people, she added.

Numerous state officials will be on hand to watch Makhi get inaugurated, including Bysiewicz, Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates, Deputy Commissioner of Education Desi Nesmith, State Representative Jane Garibay, and Supreme Court Justice Steven Ecker. The event will live streamed via the Connecticut's Kid Governor YouTube channel and Facebook page, a press release said.

While speaking during the assembly, Superintendent Terrell Hill joked with Makhi about becoming governor at such an early age.

"You got to be governor in fifth grade and I'm still struggling to get in office," Hill said. "For a time that's really tough for so many, we're all looking for new energy. It is great to have this energy come to Windsor in the form of us representing the kid governor program."

Austin Mirmina covers Manchester and Bolton.