Inspired by his AP Government assignment to take on a civic action project, Bobby Hill ’19 organized a political engagement forum at SCH with four elected officials who talked about their path into politics and how individuals can make an impact.
“I envisioned an event that would help students who are currently registered to vote, along with students like me who will be voting in the very near future, become more informed about the political process and how we can effect change,” Bobby said.
“Amongst so many of our students, there is an innate sense of purpose coupled with the drive to make their dreams a reality,” teacher Danielle Gross said. “Students in this class canvassed, volunteered with campaigns, ran a voter registration drive, provided information about candidates in the upcoming election, did polling, and explored misinformation tactics—this was Bobby’s thing.”
Bobby enlisted Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker (P’31, D), Councilman At-Large Al Taubenberger (R), State Representative Christopher Rabb (I), and State Representative Steve McCarter (D) to join him for a panel discussion for SCH students on October 22. SCH’s esteemed guests each described how and why they got into politics, took questions from the audience, and left the group with some take-away messages.
The right to vote is “sacred,” Councilman Taubenberger said, noting that many men and women have defended that right with their lives. He also shared that he had once ran for city council and lost by 163 votes out of 80,000 cast. “Your vote really matters and can make a difference,” he said.
Councilwoman Parker asserted that the people at the top didn’t just decide they wanted to give women the right to vote, they were prompted by advocacy from the outside. She encouraged individuals to vote and to get involved in politics because whatever they care about is impacted by government and politics in some way.
“You are amongst the best and the brightest and are getting access to one of the most quality educations in our region,” Councilwoman Parker said. “My hope is that you will use your critical thinking and analytical skills and you will put them to work for whatever area you care about—and that voting will just be one of the tools that you employ to make the change.”
Representative Rabb reminded students that, “politicians know who votes, and they talk to the ones who do. The rest of you are invisible until you raise hell. You can have an impact. If you’re not on the table, you’re on the menu.”
Representative McCarter encouraged students to make an impact using the example of the March for Our Lives in D.C. “They were kids like yourself who said, ‘Enough is enough,’” he said.
In his closing statement, Councilman Taubenberger commended Bobby for his role in initiating the forum. “This was not easy to organize,” he said. “But I’m glad you did it.”
Representative Rabb also encouraged students to recognize their great capacity and to think about how they are going to use that to help people. “You have so much power—more power than you could ever possibly imagine,” he said. “But it’s not going to be power that’s given to you. It’s power that you already have in yourself and when used collectively, you’re unstoppable.”