With the upcoming presidential election in November, residents of towns all across the United States will be heading to the polls to vote. In Longmeadow, LHS has given students 18 years or older the opportunity to register to vote, or students aged 16 or 17 the opportunity to pre-register to vote. Students are encouraged on the morning announcements to register during lunch.
“We’re happy to make it easier for students,” says Mr. Landers, and want to be “very supportive and encouraging and educational in terms of how to register.” By registering, students become qualified to vote in not just the presidential election, but to vote for “US senators, US congressmen, and local representatives,” says Landers. Moreover, Thomas Coulouras, a junior at LHS who advocates for voting registration, feels that “it is the people’s right to have involvement in the government and ultimately we are electing the people who run [it]. It’s necessary for us to use our voice and take action to make sure we are electing leaders that represent us.” Students at LHS have many beliefs about voting. Senior Rebecca Rothstein, who plans on voting in the next election, says that “people should register to vote because we are finally of age to have a say in very important decisions and issues” and “can play a role in choosing the leaders of our country.” Similarly, senior Noah Desmarais, who has pre-registered, believes “people should definitely register to vote” because “it is an important right, every vote counts.” He wants LHS to “encourage people to go to the polls and express their opinions about issues our country is facing.”
With an overall rise in interest towards politics in young people according to the US Census Bureau, towns across the United States are implementing new regulations in school settings, such as the Civics Bill passed in November, 2018. The bill requires “that every 8th grader in the state takes a civics class. For the first time, “our two middle schools are teaching a civics class to 8th graders,” says Mr. Landers. In the state of Massachusetts, it is also required that “students engage in at least one civics based project in high school. LHS has chosen to put that in US history II.” One classic example of a civics-based project is “to help kids get registered to vote.” The overarching goal of these new implementations are for students “to be civic in our purpose but not political,” states Landers.
Although many students at LHS are not 16 years old yet, there are other ways to get involved. Thomas says students can “advocate for legislation, meet with [their] legislators, research, and get involved with activist movements.”