An excited group of fourth grade Purdy Elementary students greeted State Rep. Michelle Caldier when she arrived on campus Dec. 17 to talk about Washington state government.
Caldier lead students in an interactive lesson about how state government operates by dividing the students into two groups — boys and girls — and naming the boys the Senate and the girls the House of Representatives.
She then chose teacher Andrew Sams as governor — elected by the students’ popular vote — and named herself as Speaker of the House, before proposing several bills designed to show the students how the legislative process works.
“They gave me this super boring powerpoint to use,” Caldier said of the original presentation. “And I just knew that wasn’t going to work.”
Patty McClelland, substitute principal for Purdy Elementary, spoke highly of Caldier’s interactive demonstration.
“I thought it was very helpful to show kids the process of how passing a bill worked,” McClelland said. “She created scenarios that meant something to fourth-graders ...(and) the kids were engaged. She explained the process at their level.”
Caldier was elected to the House of Representatives in 2014 and serves the 26th Legislative District, which includes Gig Harbor as well as Bremerton and Port Orchard.
“Last year was a marathon year,” Caldier said. “Things are going great. It’s a huge learning process.”
She went on to say that she is planning on advocating for more bills this year than last year.
The biggest bill that Caldier will be introducing in the upcoming session is one designed to streamline care and medication for mental health patients if they are booked into jail.
“Right now there’s very poor communication,” Caldier said of the contact between the prison system and mental health care agencies.
The proposed bill would create a computer system that would alert mental health agencies if one of their patients is booked, allowing them to coordinate with the jail to ensure the patient received the proper medication.
Caldier said that in this past year she’s learned different strategies on how to be the most effective in representing her district, which she will be utilizing in the coming session.
She left the students at Purdy with some words of encouragement to ponder over the upcoming winter break:
“If you stay focused and keep studying, you can do anything you want ... you can do anything with your life if you pay attention and work hard.”