Nauset Horizons

Students Have Power

M. Gabi Tessier, Reporter

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American citizens have a special power in their country:  the ability to vote, petition, protest, and ultimately make a change in their government.  Students under 18, even though they are not of voting age, are still making a change.

Across the nation students are standing up and utilizing their voices to make a change for Gun Control Reforms following the Parkland school shooting in Florida.  They are using freedom of speech to get their message across by petitioning local and the federal government, organizing walkouts and marches, and forming activist groups.

In the past,  movements led by the American youth has prompted changed the country.  In 1965 the movement to withdraw troops from the Vietnam War gained momentum because of their actions.  Just as being seen today with the demand for gun reforms, the young people of the 60s came together through marches, petitions, and activism groups in support of anti-war legislation.  Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was one group formed at the time that highly influenced the U.S. government. In 1973, President Nixon ended the fighting in Vietnam because of their actions.

Students today are not only fighting for gun control, they are  involved in local and state governments advocating for changes.

Nauset High School Junior, Victoria Valentino, is active in her community.  She participates in marches and rallies, attends her local town meeting, and is a member of the Black Student Union and the Human Rights Academy. “I encourage anyone to reach out to a peer or group that is  politically active, no matter if you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, join a group where you can express your political opinions through.”

“Being politically active gives me opportunity to state my opinion and views by participating in events and movements such as the March For Our Lives in March 2018,”  said Nauset High School junior, Faith Hathaway.

There are political and activist groups around the country that help provide students opportunities to become involved and informed.

One such organization is the High School Democrats.  The club currently has over 500 chapters across the nation with more than 1,600 members.  The High School Democrats (HSD) allow students to connect with other politically active students and with politicians.  

Teenage Republicans is a nationwide organization that promotes political activism for students with more conservative beliefs.

Junior and dual enrollment student, Dillon McCarthy is  involved in HSD. McCarthy is not only the development director for Massachusetts HSD, he is also the co-chair of the Cape Cod HSD and the President of Nauset HSD.

“I help encourage more students around the state to be politically active, coordinate the over 30 chapters throughout MA, and help create new chapter where they are needed.

I also help coordinate collaboration between the the Monomoy Regional High School, Sturgis Charter Public School and Nauset chapters,”  McCarthy describes. “I help to do whatever is needed to help make out community a better place.”

Monomoy junior Ted Clifford,  the president and founder of Monomoy High School’s chapter of HSD, shares the political passions with McCarthy. “I believe that becoming politically active is the number one way to make a positive change in your community. Even if politics aren’t your thing, there are hundreds of ways you can make a difference by participating. Or, if they do interest you, you can form networks and meet and work with politicians, making a name for yourself and giving you a leg up for your future,” remarks Clifford.  “Within our organization we attend events and work for candidates and active representatives, being the change we wish to see. Joining will put you front and center in the fight for our democracy.”

Students who are over the age of  16 now have the ability to pre-register to vote in Massachusetts .  This gives more students an opportunity to become involved in the election process and start voting as soon as they turn 18.  It also sends a message to those in office that the younger generation is paying attention and wants to be heard. Right now, voting pre-registration is an opportunity that only students in California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington.

“It is important to be pre-registered because everyone should be voting.  If they don’t a large percentage of the population will not be represented. It gives you a voice.” Hathaway, a pre-registered voter says.

Students are running in clubs that advocate for social and environmental reforms and awareness.

Black Student Union (BSU) club was newly formed this year at Nauset by social activists Sofia Pombo and Tesfu McMillin, both juniors at the school.  “We created the BSU as a welcoming environment to promote black culture, history and current events,” says Pombo. She also added, “There has been a divide on campus between black students and student of other races, and we would like to see a unification of all students, and build greater understanding of each other’s heritage.”  

Nauset students are invested in positive changes in the culture of their community and belong to an array of clubs such as Human Rights Academy, LGBT Club, Nauset Green Club, Youth Against Plastic Pollution (YAPP), and Feminism.

For certain, young people are a force to be reckoned with, and  if students keep up their momentum, positive changes will be made.

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Students Have Power