Summit Shasta seniors prepare to vote
By Zack Navarra
For many seniors at Summit Shasta, their first experience with the democratic process on a national scale will be with the upcoming 2020 presidential primaries. California’s primary is fast approaching with its March 3 voting date being less than one short week away. (Click here to find your polling place!) Throughout the 2019-20 school year, Summit Shasta has tried to equip its seniors with the tools necessary to be informed voters.
The first step Shasta seniors must take to engage in the voting process is registering to vote. Summit Shasta has worked to help students register through two different ways: the first being a voter registration booth during the club fair and the second being through the AP Government class.
Summit Shasta hosted its annual club fair on Aug. 30, 2019, including a voting registration booth for the first time. AP Government teacher Henry Cooper said, “During our club organization day where we had all the clubs campaign earlier this year we did have a voter registration type drive where students could pre register to vote or register to vote. We had signup form there and students got donuts as a reward if they signed up.” The registration booth offered eligible seniors the ability to become part of the voting process.
Some seniors took advantage of this opportunity. Shasta senior Chris Edrosolo said, “Ms. Casey [Summit Shasta sophomore English teacher] — her mother was here when we had [the club fair] and I was able to register to vote through her.”
While this resource was beneficial to some students, the existence of this booth was not widely known. When asked how the school prepares students to vote, Shasta senior Nelly Rahimhodjayeva said, “Not really. We don’t really have any lectures or whatever explaining the voting process, but I think that’s just because they kind of assume most people already know how it’s done.”
Mr. Cooper plans on having more opportunities in class for students to register to vote. He said,“We are about to go into the presidency unit after Expeditions and then we will have a day on a Wednesday block to try and sign up to pre register to vote or register if you are eligible already. So we’re gonna have class time for that too in the next unit.”
Through their time at Summit Shasta students have become more informed on politics and have been exposed to multiple political viewpoints. Edrosolo believes that AP Government “has given me a different perspective to government. It’s a lot more than just the two parties; there’s, like, issues and demographics and age that you have to look at. It’s been incredibly beneficial to be in AP Government.” He continued, “Earlier in the year we’ve done little bits of information; Wednesdays we would sometimes look at a candidate, or we would look at a social issue. I think that’s helped open up my eyes to other points of view.”
Some students feel as if a better job could be done to ensure that all viewpoints are represented fairly. Rahimhodjayeva believes that “AP Gov tries to, but the teacher, when we do our current events stuff and he shows us the stuff that Trump did, he kind of presents it in a ridiculing manner.”
In response Mr. Cooper said, “I think naturally current events and class discussions are going to be difficult in a truly and purely unbiased manner.” He continued, “My intent is just to provide any current controversies going on. I think just calling out doesn’t necessarily mean I am attacking or ridiculing. I can see how if I do bring up current events and most of the current events are related to his policies or statements that it could seem like I am consistently trying to push an agenda, which I personally do not believe I am and do not want to do.”
Summit Shasta works to foster an environment that encourages all of its students to vote. Dean of Culture and Instruction Adelaide Giornelli said,“ I think in terms of community engagement I would hope that we continue having voter drive registration on campus because I think that all of our students, regardless of political background — you have to vote; you have to be a part of solving the problem.”
FEATURED IMAGE (at the top of this post): This is an official 2020 California primary ballot. PHOTO CREDIT: Zack Navarra