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Let’s Get Active

Clubs around the school advocate for their issues around the community.

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Photo by Ashley Riter

Whether it be a current issue or a matter of someone’s opinion, students who are involved in a student activism club are always ready to discuss the topic. LHS has multiple clubs that give students the chance to become politically active.

What is student activism?

“In my opinion student activism is when we as students finally decide that we need to act on the problems that we see are going on,” sophomore Aryonna Straws said. “We take action in our lives, we stand up for something we believe in. Instead of continuously talking about it, we go to events, we stand up, we stand out and we try to make it better.”

Young Democrats and Young Republicans

Young Democrats are at LHS bright and early on Thursday mornings at 7:35 to discuss pressing issues in room 901. Young Republicans meet during Liberty Hour in room 901 to do the same. Debate teacher Tim Baldwin sponsors both clubs.

They talk about political issues from different perspectives and share their views on current events and political figures.

These clubs offers students a safe place where they can express their opinions with their peers about the issues of all kinds.

“Both Young Democrats and Young Republicans do a fantastic job at shrinking large issues down and making them relevant to the lives of those who listen,” senior Kelsey Pierce from Young Democrats said. “Being able to see both sides and understanding why you believe what you do is crucial to the growing bipartisan climate in the U.S. These clubs allow for discussion, debate and learning how to respect others opinions even when you may disagree with it.”

By joining a politically active club, students are open to sharing their beliefs with others.

“The idea isn’t necessarily to get those beliefs perfect but rather practice how we vocalize them and exchange ideas with other people,” Baldwin said.

While it may be earlier than normal, those in Young Democrats invite all to

come to room 901 on Thursday mornings to discuss topics and hear new ideas.

Young Republican have been focused on the midterm elections and other topics.

“I think [having political clubs] is a really good idea, regardless of what side you’re on, left or right,” Young Republican Vice President senior Layne Nichols said. “I think high school is a time where kids get set into what they believe and who they are.”

Baldwin thinks that these clubs are an exceptional example to help the students become aware of things they usually wouldn’t think about.

“We live in a society where there is a lot of measuring yourself based on how many retweets or likes you get,” Baldwin said. “I think there is a lot of benefit from thinking about more than yourself for a little bit. One of my favorite parts about these clubs is that they attracts kids to want to think about something bigger than themselves.”

Voter Registration

Despite divides between political parties, many students are working to get students of all political parties registered to vote. During the third week of September, Young Democrats hosted their second annual voter registration drive.

“Our voter registration drive was a stand set up at lunch where we got as many people registered to vote as we could,” senior Abby Maloney said.

Young Democrats first thought of the idea last school year, hosting a drive during School Safety-360. This drive is important for students who believe strongly in the democratic process.

“Politics are important to us and the way that our future functions,” senior Grace Johannes said. “If we have the opportunity to help shape and learn things that affect us every day, we should do it.”

Maloney and Johannes are working to make both themselves and people around them be more involved in the world of government.

Johannes first became active in politics during the 2016 presidential election. She joined both Young Democrats and Young Republicans to find out where her views aligned, and she’s been politically outspoken ever since. Maloney got her started in politics her sophomore year, but her interest dates back to seventh grade.

Both alumni of the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State, Johannes and Maloney work daily to ensure those around them stay politically active.

“Politics affect every single person, regardless of whether or not you’re politically involved,” Maloney said. “The decisions that are made now can impact our policymaking for our whole lifetime.”

Voting, to these students, means more than just saying which candidate one agrees with. Oftentimes, the process of voting includes substantial outreach and connection with those who have different viewpoints. This is what the voter registration drive aimed to do this year when the Young Democrats reached out to Young Republicans in an attempt to make the booth more collaborative. Although the drive was mainly run by Young Democrats, the Young Republicans still have plans of their own looking forward.

“We are looking forward to helping people register to vote in the future,”

Treasurer of Young Republicans, senior TJ Cowger said.

Senior Abbie Schulte, who is not affiliated with either club, is bringing her own voter registration booth to the Liberty Fall Festival on September 28, 29 and 30.

“It’s primarily staffed by me, but National Honors Society and other Girl Scouts are helping out throughout the weekend,” Schulte said. “I was inspired to do this because this midterm election is crucial no matter what party one is for, so the more people that vote the better. Also I think a bipartisan booth is more approachable and will have a better impact in our community.”

Many students believe voting is a responsibility everyone should fulfill once they’re eligible.

“You have the right to vote,” Young Democrats member and junior Jake Islas said. “You should be compelled to vote, especially if you have any opinions on what’s going on in the world, your country, or even your hometown.”

Members of Young Republicans also agree students should vote as soon as they turn 18.

“Things you may not realize affect your everyday life are being changed every single day and you could have a voice and a say in that,” Cowger said.

Campaigning

Younger students can sometimes feel alienated when election season rolls around. It’s easy to feel voiceless when you cannot yet cast your ballot. For these students, AP Government teacher Ron Ludwig has some advice. He encourages his students to campaign for representatives well before they can vote so they can learn the democratic process by the time the next election rolls around.

“Students gain an insight to candidates, issues and how people respond when you knock on doors or make calls,” Ludwig said.

He values campaigning so highly that he’s even made it a part of his classroom curriculum. During election years, Ludwig has his students complete five hours of canvassing for political candidates to make them more aware of the democratic process.

Campaigning is a major part of local and federal elections, and for many who cannot yet vote, it’s an empowering way to share your political views in a productive way.

Environmental Club

Environmental Club is for students who love the outdoors who want to learn about keeping their environment clean. Environmental club is sponsored by biology teacher Rick Knowles, who has a passion for educating students about the world that surrounds them.

Knowles is still determined to show his students what they have been missing out on.

“Last year I took some kids out to a stream, we surveyed the water quality and put some nets in it,” Knowles said. “We just walked around in the stream and there are kids who say, ‘I’ve never ever done this in my life’, which I think is pretty sad. Here is this 17-year-old who had never been in a stream. They’re

just so unaware of what is out there.”

Environmental club encourages students to advocate for the environment around them and discuss how to solve problems.

While some may say that tackling large environmental problems is challenging, this club is using student activism to change things one step at a time.

“This year our plan is to do more community service and activities around the community,” club president junior Carmen Caudillo said. “We are also thinking about going to the Omaha Zoo and doing fundraising for that. We are trying to make the school aware of the environment.”

Diversity Council

To learn more about different cultures, Diversity council welcomes all students. Diversity Council meets in room 301 during Liberty Hour every other Friday. It’s a place where everyone is celebrated. They discuss different cultures and customs, listen to guest speakers and hear personal stories from students.

Though there may be a wide range of students involved in this club, they’re all working towards the same goal.

“The goal of our club is to provide a safe place for all students to share their thoughts and opinions,” sponsor and counselor Trilaina McCallum said. “We want all types of students to be a part of the club since we can learn from everyone.”

Topics vary from current protests to Native American mascots. At first glance, this may seem like a club that could result in hot-headed political debates, however the atmosphere is kept light-hearted. Not only does it teach students to recognize their differences, but also to own and make the most out of them.

“I think that if we try to promote differences and tried accepting and celebrating differences that would be one step further to us being able to connect,” Straws said. “After we connect we can communicate better, talk about what’s wrong and how to fix it. If we come together as a community I feel like we could definitely step up on student activism.”

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Let’s Get Active