By Bianca Ruiz
On Friday November 2, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) held its first Democracy Day, where student volunteers set up outreach booths and informed students about the importance of voting, along with other interactive activities such as meeting with local representatives.
The weather was sunny with a slight breeze, blowing a pinned American flag gently from its podium. Students exited their fourth period classes and made their way towards the quad, where a cluster of blue canopy booths stood. Student volunteers stood under the booths, encouraging fellow classmates to register or pre-register to vote while others presented speeches in the background.
“It is important for us to have our voices heard. We are citizens of a new generation and this is our election,” senior Matthew Moran said.
This year’s Democracy Day was specifically planned to coincide with the midterm elections occurring on November 6. However, planning started back in August.
“Personally, I really like that it is student planned. I find it easier to connect with others who are in the same situation as you. So when you are a 17 year old pre-registering to vote and you have a classmate talking to you about the power of your vote or propositions, I think it is easier to connect and be motivated than if an adult was doing so,” senior Alexis Hopp said.
As this event was student planned, everyone involved played an important role in contributing to the day’s success. From planning the dates to contacting representatives and getting approval from administrators, Democracy Day was a success.
“It took a while to get everything into place but it’s really rewarding at the end to see the final product,” junior Hannah Chubin said.
Some of the students who joined the group to plan Democracy Day were motivated by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida earlier this year and inspired by the student led presentations at lunch last March. Chubin was one student at the time who had taken to Twitter and posted a letter asking for change, helping spark the school wide March 14 demonstration.
In one of the booths in the quad, Chubin, with the help of English department chair Mathew Arnold, created socratic seminar style questions about the recent shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Some of the questions she asked students included, “Do you think the constitution gives people the right to free hate speeches?” as well as questions about their views on gun laws.
“My goal for the questions was to have the discussion go wherever the students wanted it. I wanted the students to think about what I was asking them and genuinely react and have their thoughts branch out,” Chubin said.
On the stage, four GHC students stood in front of the student body and presented speeches on the topic of voting.
Seniors Vivian Thai and Parna Shakouri, junior Megha Jain, and sophomore Silvina Herrera talked about what their voices meant in the voting world and how important it is that we all make our voices heard.
In another effort to inform students about voting, Moran created mini lesson plans which the group offered to teachers for them to tie in their lessons in the days leading up to Friday. Such lessons included studying past citizenship tests that were created to deny African Americans the right to vote, along with how students can participate in local, state, and national government.
For participants and those involved in the planning process, Democracy Day was a success, and they are currently thinking about having a second day during the spring semester.