New Civic Engagement Elective Offered to Seniors
Written by Celeste McCall Cromer ‘19
This year seniors had the opportunity to enroll in Civic Engagement taught by Melinda Mueller. Although it’s recorded as a standard History credit, this class is wholly unique among the Seattle Academy curriculum. Civic Engagement was created as a response to many students’ frustration that they didn’t understand -and therefore couldn’t participate in- the machinations of local and federal government. Because of time constraints and curriculum requirements, most young people graduate high school with only the vague awareness that they should vote in presidential elections once they turn eighteen, but what does that really entail? What’s even on a ballot? How does one know if they’re filling it out correctly? Often there are questions unrelated to heavily publicized elections, so where does one go to find out more? The goal of Civic Engagement is to educate students on all of these topics and beyond.
Seniors enrolled this fall have found that Civic Engagement provides deeper practical knowledge related to issues that have an immediate bearing on our reality. The class allows us to pull critical thinking skills learned in other courses and apply them to activities such as: researching proposed legislation and the branches of government involved, contacting state governors, legislators, senators, and representatives to share individual comments and requests, getting involved with advocacy initiatives of choice and learning how to assist them, navigating the voting process and subsequent elections (both local and federal). Overall students become more aware and informed about the current political climate. Students who take Civic Engagement will carry and use this information for the rest of their lives, and hopefully pass it on to others. This class leaves its students feeling more prepared than ever before to tackle the complexities of being an active and responsible citizen.
This is important especially considering the upcoming election. An inability to vote can make those under eighteen feel as if they are helpless to contribute in a meaningful way to the direction of the nation. Forced to stand on the sidelines with no way for their voices to be heard. However, Civic Engagement teaches young adults that their opinions can and should be counted; even if not through the act of voting. In the past few years, the American people’s trust in the integrity of our election process has significantly decreased. Leading to many feeling as if there’s no point in participating in our democracy. Instead, Americans should surge forward with a newfound ambition to mold the country into a true representation of what its citizens stand for. Civic Engagement guides students through using crucial tools to amplify their voices for all the nation to hear.