The Register Forum

CRLS Graduates, Teacher Elected to Local Governments

Grace Ramsdell, Editor-in-Chief

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

“Cambridge has really afforded me so many unique opportunities,” said Sumbul Siddiqui ‘06, adding, “I just want to give back to the city that’s so much of who I am.”

Siddiqui is one of several CRLS community members elected to local office this November. Ben Ewan-Campen ‘01 was elected as an alderman for the Somerville government, which elects candidates from each of the city’s wards. Also in Somerville, Emily Ackman ‘98 will join the local government as a school committee member. In Watertown, current CRLS history teacher Lily Read was elected to the school committee. Former CRLS guidance counselor Laurance Kimbrough ‘98 will join the Cambridge School Committee, and Siddiqui will join the Cambridge City Council after receiving the second most votes in the race.

Each Rindge graduate had something to say about the influence of their time in Cambridge Public Schools. “I really loved CRLS,” Siddiqui began in a phone interview with the Register Forum. She credits much of her positive experience at Rindge to the theatre department, saying that she’s still close with theatre teacher Monica Murray. Siddiqui also noted her involvement with the Cambridge Youth Council, which she co-founded, and her role as student body president.

Photo Credit: CRLS Yearbook (2006)
Pictured: CRLS Student Government 2006, with Sumbul Siddiqui at center.

Siddiqui described Rindge as a microcosm of the city of Cambridge. “My approach back then, when I was running for student body president, was really to make sure that I was connecting with everyone,” she explained. “I had to be elected by the entire school, all grades. So that kind of experience…I really used it in my approach to this campaign. I didn’t want to rely on just [one] particular age group,” she added.

In a phone interview with the Register Forum, Ewan-Campen commented that his interests were broad while at CRLS, but science teacher Paul McGuinness’s class made a particular impression on him, and he ended up pursuing biology. McGuinness told the Register Forum that Ewan-Campen was a motivated and engaged student, adding, “I’m happy to see that he’s stuck with the sciences.”

Speaking to the role of scientists in today’s society and government, Ewan-Campen commented that scientists like “to tackle tough problems” and aren’t afraid of doing “years of really tough work on really complicated issues.”

Ewan-Campen explained that the communication and collaboration skills emphasized in scientific work are transferable to government work.

He added, “There are often a lot of pressures on elected officials to make decisions one way or another, and I think it is important to have people who are skeptical, who are independent, who think about trying to get to the right answer.”

Ackman was elected as a student representative to the school committee during her time at CRLS, and she says that experience gave her early insight into being on a school committee. She told the Register Forum that her appreciation for the Cambridge Public Schools grew as she spent time studying and working in education outside of Massachusetts.

Ackman also commented, “That’s where I realized, you know, it’s not just that Cambridge cares about education, it’s that Massachusetts invests heavily in public education.” She concluded, “The common language of caring and investing in public education is the short of why it was important for me to come back here.”

In a phone interview with the Register Forum, Kimbrough commented, “I wouldn’t have preferred to go to school anywhere else, or to have worked anywhere else for that matter.” Kimbrough has worked in Cambridge elementary schools, in special education at CRLS, and in the guidance department at CRLS.

He told the Register Forum that he was motivated to run to help address “systemic inequalities that are not specific to Cambridge” but that the district nonetheless needs to focus on. Kimbrough cited mental health awareness, racial inequalities, and sexual harassment as particular issues that motivated him to run. He added that being around Cambridge and seeing how some of his classmates and former students succeed and others do not also impacted his decision to run.

There is a lot of work that you can do at any age to really get involved in [the local government] process.”

— Ben Ewan-Campen '01

Ewan-Campen said housing affordability in Somerville and the greater Boston area is one issue that motivated him to run, and that the 2016 presidential election also inspired him to be more active in local politics.

He added, “I think when I was growing up, I knew a lot about the president and the Senate and the House of Representatives, and I don’t think I really understood, you know, ‘What does a mayor do? What does a city manager do? What does the city council actually do?’”

He continued, “That is something that I would really encourage young people to get involved with, because there is a lot of work that you can do at any age to really get involved in [the local government] process.”

Ms. Read hopes that her election in Watertown will help her students understand the importance of civic engagement. “Every year I teach about civics,” said Read, continuing, “I realized I can talk a lot about it, and I’ve participated in different campaigns and things like that, but I’d never been a candidate.”

According to Read, she won her race by 26 votes. “I think, you know, by winning by such a small margin, it really taught all of my students: ‘Oh my God, wait, [my] vote actually does matter,’” she commented.

In addition to the perspective campaigning and being elected would bring her as a teacher, Read explained how she was inspired to run by her former student and teaching assistant Will MacArthur ‘16, who ran for Cambridge School Committee this year: “When he jumped in the ring, I was like, ‘He’s already doing this, you know, and if he can already find the time to do this and he can manage to run a campaign as a college student, there’s nothing that should be stopping me.’”

Ackman, whose husband is also a CRLS graduate, cited the results of the presidential election as motivation to run this year. “I knew that I wanted my children to see female politicians, and the only female whose political career I have any say over is my own,” she said. “When I found out [the incumbent] wasn’t running again, I decided to run where my skills were.”

Although the municipal elections are over and it will be another year before national midterm elections, the recent electees stressed the importance of being engaged in one’s community.

“It’s easy to fixate on Trump’s Twitter. I think all of us are tempted to do that,” said Ewan-Campen, concluding, “It’s really, really important to focus on the local news also—and get involved in the local news.”

This piece also appears in our November print edition.


Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The Student Newspaper of Cambridge Rindge and Latin
CRLS Graduates, Teacher Elected to Local Governments