(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
To the sound of hearty applause, the Boys and Girls Club of South Boston welcomed its new club mayor and Club Council Friday evening.
The seven-member council and its mayor were voted into the positions in November and officially took the oath of office Friday in front of a packed house in the club’s auditorium.
Kyle Murphy will replace outgoing Club Mayor Patrick Lynch. Lulu Cruz, Kanyiah Ganga, Robert Hilliard, Sarah Mogan, Judy Ma, Julie Ann Perez, and Amanda Talbot will be the new councilors.
The youths follow in the footsteps of generations of club mayors and councilors, continuing a tradition that started in the late 1940s.
“It’s a big learning experience for the kids; they learn how government works,” said Harry Duval, executive director of the club. “It also empowers them and gives them a voice in club happenings.”
The council, which is made up of 10- and 11-year-olds, was voted in by members of the South Boston Boys and Girls Club and will work with club staff to organize events and provide a voice for the club’s younger members.
The councilors and mayor, who will serve two-year terms, will also take a trip down to Washington, D.C., in April 2014 to see the federal government at work.
“There weren’t any formal sports then, so the club was the place to be,” said Paul Saia, 78, who was the club mayor from 1948-1952.
Saia, who serves on the club’s board, attended Friday’s ceremonies to support the young elected officials and encourage them to work hard for their fellow club members.
“It teaches them the political scene, which is important,” said Saia. “They learn how to interact with their peers and ask for their votes.”
Prior to November’s election the candidates made posters, gave stump speeches, and even addressed all the club members during a debate.
“When the members are voting we talk about choosing people who will do their best for the club,” said Anne Gordon, the club’s art director and election overseer.
The program was formed in the 1940s and continued through the 1960s, but fell to the wayside until it was revived in the 1990s.
“I think you’ll see great things from this year’s council,” said Gordon.
At Friday’s ceremonies the members were sworn in by South Boston elected officials including District City Councilor Bill Linehan, Representative Nick Collins, and a representative from the office of Senator Jack Hart.
Representative Collins, a former “club kid” who still holds a floor hockey championship, but never was on the council, said the members have a bright future ahead of them and had a little advice.
“No matter where you go, no matter how successful you are, never forgot your roots and how you were raised,” Collins said.
As the new mayor and councilors were sworn in Friday in front of their peers, families, and friends, many smiled proudly as they raised their right hand and took the oath of office.
“I’m excited,” said Murphy. “Last year [as a councilor] was fun but this year is going to be even better.”
Murphy already has a few ideas for his term that he like to get taken care of, including more dances for the 6-,7-, 8-year-olds and cheaper vending machine.
“It’s a tough job and it takes a lot of time,” said Lynch, the outgoing mayor. “Sometimes it’s hard and you run out of ideas, but it’s worth it.”