Editor’s note: This is the third post in a new series, spotlighting the work of Hillcrest High School journalism students. All content was created and submitted by the students themselves and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Advocate. Preston Hollow editor Elizabeth Barbee reviews the pieces and occasionally edits them for clarity. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Political Activist Committee (PAC) is born
By Jake Steele, editor-in-chief of Hillcrest High School’s student paper
At the start of this school year, Hillcrest High School senior Hudson Bennett realized that something was missing from his educational experience. He felt that the student body wasn’t being educated about the political issues that were important to their futures, especially as they entered voting age, and that they needed a vehicle to discuss their political views in a respectful environment. This desire led to the creation of the Political Activist Committee (PAC), and it has grown in scope ever since.
“Students at Hillcrest aren’t really given the opportunity to discuss and debate these kinds of things like adults in the classroom,” Bennett says. “This club gives them the opportunity to do that. Everyone can talk, and if you’ve got something to say then you can say it, which is kind of a foreign area for a lot of these students.”
The PAC is sponsored by AP Economics and Government teacher Gilbert Vansoi, but the club’s members take charge of the meetings. The members are divided into liberal and conservative sides, and the leaders of each side are responsible for agreeing on each week’s discussion topic. President Bennett and his vice president, Rocky Khoshbin, provide some context and facts regarding the issue before the meeting begins. Though the debates often get heated, Bennett maintains that the club’s true goal is to inform students and give them a broader political perspective.
“A lot of students who are in this club are trying to graduate and enter life as productive members of society,” Bennett says. “A key factor of becoming a productive member of society is being informed about the issues of the society you enter into. I think this club gives students a chance to accomplish this.”
The meetings are often centered on issues that will be important in this year’s upcoming election, such as gun control, the Iran Nuclear Deal or U.S. military involvement. This will be the first election in which many of the students are eligible to vote, so being informed on topics that could make or break a candidate is more important now than ever before. Vansoi says that the club is teaching students more than they realize.
“Students understand now that every election cycle matters, not just presidential ones,” Vansoi says. “[The PAC] deepens students’ understanding of the issues at hand and can only improve their overall knowledge of the concepts they will need to master to pass their AP exams.”
More and more students have jumped on board to participate in the weekly meetings. The members come from a variety of backgrounds and belief systems, and the different viewpoints give the discussions a broader perspective. Though the group is young, the students are hopeful that it will continue to grow and inspire their peers to become knowledgeable and involved in the political realm long after the founding members have graduated.
“PAC allowed me to gain different views from all walks of life,” senior Marc Villegas says. “It allows students to educate other students about big issues that we will all have to face as adults. It is not only a social group, but it is informative and enjoyable.”
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