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Lea Andrus received the special honor from Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan on Friday, Nov. 18, at Hawks View school.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE  - At the Hawks View event, left to right: Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, the school mascot, Lea Andrus, school principal Amy Mitchell and school district interim superintendent Jeremy Lyon Fifth grader Lea Andrus of Sherwood didn't expect it as she entered her Hawks View Elementary School gymnasium at the noon hour Friday, Nov. 18.

But she was in for a big surprise as a packed bleacher section with fourth and fifth graders greeted her with the news that she has been selected 2023 Oregon Kid Governor.

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan was on hand at the Sherwood school to make the presentation.

In the statewide competition, every candidate for Kid Governor chooses a platform. Andrus chose bullying as her platform.

Andrus' goal is to foster communications between classmates through a weekly note program she calls Tootles. Another aim is to help schools appoint "kindness helpers" and promote daily acts of kindness.

Fagan said over 3,200 students and 127 classrooms participated in this year's election.

According to Fagan, "The Oregon Kid Governor program is an incredible civic education program teaching young Oregonians how their government works. I support this program because it gives a real life civics education to young kids."

Fagan started out the presentation by addressing Andrus.

"I personally want to thank you for making your platform anti bullying and leading with kindness, because it was kids like you that I grew up with that really changed the course of my life, and I know that you, and the leadership platform that you are going to have, you are going to change kids lives," Fagan said.

Fagan continued, "Thousands of students across Oregon voted for you and selected you to be their leader."

It was Sherwood School District interim superintendent Jeremy Lyon's turn to address the huge throng who attended the presentation.

"This is quite a special moment," he said. "As our secretary of state said, we do need more kindness. It is so important to be kind to one another. All you get is reward back if you're kind to another person … thank you to your parents, and your brothers and sisters here, for a special moment."

It was Andrus' turn to address the audience.

"The reason why I chose this platform is because I've seen bullying and I've felt it before and I don't think anybody in this room deserves to feel that ever," she said. "I just want to say thank you to the Oregon government for putting this amazing thing together."

Local news media met up with Andrus and her parents following the noon-time presentation in Sherwood.

Andrus admits she was surprised heading into the gymnasium.

"We thought this was just going to be a regular, old assembly," she said. "I was confused about what was happening."

Her parents, Jason and Francisca, however, had received prior word of the designation, so they had to keep the secret.

"We were just so proud and happy for her, and the difference a young 11-year-old could make," Francisca said. "Everybody was just so excited."

The Gazette caught up with Fagan and she was impressed with the turnout.

"I don't know if there's anything I love more in life than the sound of excited chattering of children," Fagan said. "And that's all that you hear today, a packed room to celebrate this big announcement. Just being able to celebrate her and to hear all of her classmates … it's really, really exciting."

The Kid Governor program was started by the Connecticut Democracy Center in 2015 to introduce civics education to fifth graders. In 2017, Oregon became the second state in the nation to implement the program.

You can view all candidate videos

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