Victor Shi is a Sophomore at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL. Here blogs his recap of the State of the Union Action party he attended
Angela Davis once said, “It’s true that it’s within the realm of cultural politics that young people tend to work through political issues,” and that’s exactly what engaged civic students did at Stevenson High School on the night of the State of the Union (SOTU) address.
To encourage political engagement among high school students, Stevenson’s Political Action Club (PAC) partnered with Mikva Challenge and the 22×20 campaign.
The night of the SOTU at Stevenson began with a Campaign Fair where Republican and Democrat candidates for state representative and the U.S. House campaigned. Passionate civic students and PAC members from Stevenson—including myself—talked extensively to different campaigns. Being able to interact with the eight campaigns was truly a unique opportunity, as many students signed up for internships and grassroots opportunities.
PAC not only invited candidates to help their campaign succeed for the election but also informed students to vote for their ideal candidate. Hosting a Campaign Fair with students rotating from one campaign to another helps people learn about different candidates in a fun way, and also educates future teenagers who will be voting. Following the 45-minute Campaign Fair was our own effort in making the 22×20 campaign become a reality, by registering Stevenson students to vote. Stevenson students registered their fellow students to vote for the primary election in March in which all 17 year old youth in Illinois can vote if they are eligible in November.
The State of the Union is a moment where Democrats and Republicans gather to honor the office of the presidency each year. It’s also a time when the president updates the American people on what he has accomplished, what he is committed to do, and to share his vision of the future for the nation.
Just like Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and Congress, a diverse group of interested civic students gathered to watch the SOTU address at our school. During the address, supporters of the president chanted and students opposed to the president offered some heckles. There were also many candid moments of laughter during the address, especially at facial expressions made by members of the House and Senate. The moment that got the most student applause during the night was when the camera turned to the facial expressions made by Senator Bernie Sanders.
The SOTU address was a moment to honor the office of the Presidency after a year full of triumphs and failures, engage the 22 million teenagers who will be newly-eligible voters in 2020, and most importantly bring together teenagers who share a common interest – civics.