The anxious high schoolers awaited their elected officials to begin the Power of Politics Political Forum on Feb. 16. After an internship with State Senator Ram Villivalam, Junior Sahaja Danthurthy started writing a blog about her experiences of being vocal and young in the political world. With junior Brindet Socrates from Waubonsie Valley, she founded Project Revolution, a nonprofit organization.
Project Revolution hosted its first event as an established group: The Power of Politics Political Forum. Special guests included Congressman Bill Foster, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, State Senator Ram Villivalam, and State Representative Stephanie Kifowit. The audience contained around 40 people, comprising mostly of Metea and Waubonsie students, as well as some parents.
Many of the politicians talked about their recent successes regarding passed bills and their plans for the future. Although the conversation was unfocused, they opened up the floor for the students and parents to ask questions. One thing that all the guests could chime in on was students’ voice and getting involved.
“Do internships to get exposed to what you may be interested in down the line,” Villivalam said.
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood hit home with many students. Graduating from Neuqua in 2004, she understands the experiences of current students. She was able to make a lot of comments specifically about the environment of District 204.
Kifowit strongly believes in public engagement, especially youth engagement. She urges students to speak up and meet with their politicians if they ever have questions or concerns. She sent forth the message of voting early in the ballot process, as well as at a young age.
“If you don’t vote, other people make decisions for you,” Kifowit said.
If a student turns 18 between the primaries on March 17 and the general election on Nov. 3, he or she can vote in the primaries. Project Revolution displays one way of getting involved in politics. Although most high schoolers are too young to vote, they can and should be part of the conversation.