Stevenson students are taking a greater interest in civic involvement due to the the high-profile and high-stakes nature of the 2016 primary and general elections.
Although seniors are required to take a government class before they graduate, extracurriculars like Political Action Club (PAC) allow all students to participate in discussions and provide local opportunities to students.
More than 300 students attended a debate watch party this year and about 60 students will be election judges in the general election. said Andrew Conneen, AP government teacher and PAC sponsor. opportunities to students.
“The presidential election certainly gets a lot of attention because it’s been such a different election with the first female presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, and the first reality TV candidate, Donald Trump,” Conneen said.
On the local level, students in PAC can get involved through internships and campaign fairs; supporting candidates in Illinois’ competitive 10th congressional district. Located in the northern suburbs of Chicago, the Illinois 10th congressional district contains sections of Lake and Cook County––including the Stevenson high school area.
“Political Action Club is great because it’s important to be civically engaged,” Hannah Charak ’18, intern for Brad Schneider, said.
In addition, most seniors taking government classes are required to fulfill 100 action civic points in order to pass the class. Some ways to gain these points include watching debates or training to be an election judge through the Lake County clerk’s office.
“It’s good to learn about and understand what goes on to make decisions that better our future,” Eric Fleishman ’19, intern for Mark Kirk, said.
To extend more rights to high school students, in 2016, House Bill 6167 was amended by Illinois allowing 17 year olds who will turn 18 before the general elections to vote in the primaries, as well as giving them the right to get petitions signed.These new laws have led students to get more involved at an earlier age and enter the world of civics even before their senior year.
“Our word of advice is to get involved if you have time. If you have interest, find a candidate or find a idea you support and get involved early,” Conneen said. “Make civics more than a course; make civics a lifestyle.”