story by Becca Spilka, Abby Beauregard and Jamie Gilbert-Fitzpatrick
From volunteering to assisting a campaign to participating in rallies to simply voting, staying politically involved allows the public an opportunity to have a say in their government and their future.
Teachers and students at Dutch Fork strive to stay active in government by offering classes like Economics and Government to educate students on how the United States government is run and how the people can have their voices heard.
“I feel like those two topics, [Government and Economics], are the most relevant in Americans’ everyday lives, understanding your rights and how the system works and how resources get allocated,” social studies teacher Molly Dawson said.
These classes help students better understand the country they live in and how it’s ran. Dawson explains the importance of taking these classes and the potential impact they can have on students’ lives.
“I hope that students feel confident in participating in the civic process [after taking this class] because I feel like the number one thing I hear from young people is ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I don’t know what’s going on’ as an excuse not to get involved,” Dawson said. “I hope students get enough resources to make good decisions.”
However, there are other ways outside of school to stay informed on government and politics. Junior Jesse Tompkins uses the news to stay up to date on the issues facing the nation.
“Watching the news is the most important thing. I think that’s the best way to become educated about what’s going on in the world,” Jesse said. “That’s why it makes me mad when people have issues with what the government is doing or things that Obama says. They’re just taking it out of context because they may not be aware.”
Staying aware of the nation’s conflicts is one thing but affecting change is another. The two most commonly practiced forms of political involvement are voting and volunteering during elections. Social studies teacher Laurie Humphrey explains the importance of volunteer work and the impact it has on her students.
“Students should volunteer at any presidential candidate headquarters. They’re all open offices here because South Carolina has the third primary which is extremely important. They can also volunteer at the democratic or republican headquarters downtown,” Humphrey said. “My students always have a good time volunteering and that’s often how people get jobs when their candidate is elected.”
While volunteer work is always encouraged among students, they are also told to vote! Vote! VOTE! As soon as a person has the qualifications, they are encouraged to vote because by voting for a certain candidate, that person is allowing their issue to be heard.
“Young people need to know the qualifications and make sure they vote as soon as they are eligible to. They need to know every vote counts,” Dawson said. “I think most importantly I think they need to know policies are skewed toward groups that turn out.”
Voting allows the public to put the best candidates in office that will help the public develop a better and more practical future.
“It affects their everyday lives by the amount of taxes you pay, the kind of education you get, the laws for driving your car,” Humphrey said. “You’re electing people that make the laws and carry them out.”