With the election year in full swing, the RMHS Politics Club has been busy with weekly debates, conversations and events.
The RMHS Politics club started about 6 or 7 years ago as a place for young adults to share their opinions and debate on topics that affect them and their futures. As some high schoolers will turn 18 soon, their ability to vote will need to be backed by education and conversation about political topics. This club is one of the places where students invested in politics can form their opinions and possibly introduce them to a future role in government. The club is run by history teacher Ms. Bailey. Also a teacher for Advanced Placement Government and Politics, her passion for government drives her role as the advisor to the club.
The Politics club is one of the few clubs at RMHS that meets weekly. Each week they talk about current events, prominent topics and presidential and political candidates. This year’s Co-presidents are Jenni Wheeler and Margaret Coles. They were elected last year and have loved leading the group in deep discussions and interesting topics. The club’s officers are seniors, Will Xia, Josh Bedingfield, and Adam Diemer. They joined because they were passionate about politics and most want to continue the field in the future. Co-President Margaret Coles (‘21) says, “I plan to continue into some form of government or social justice career in the future, definitely at least partially due to this club! It’s helped form my opinions, hear other viewpoints, and taught me to respectfully challenge what I don’t think is right. I hope to study International Development and Environmental Studies and potentially go into a career in climate migration and helping immigrants or other socially and legally disadvantaged people.”
The club meets every Tuesday after school from 3:30-4:30. This year due to the pandemic, their meetings are on Zoom led by Ms. Bailey and the Co-presidents. Some students have different opinions on the Zoom meetings. Member Will Adams (‘22) shared that “I feel that it’s definitely easier to interject with conversations in person, but the depth of the conversations is still as it was in person. Zoom is definitely better than not having the meetings at all given they are still very enjoyable and interesting.”
Participants like the weekly meetings and feel that they offer a time for reflection on topics that each of them care about. Any topic from climate change, to health care, the economy or equal rights are often debated and discussed. Co-president Jenni Wheeler (‘21) shared, “In the Politics Club, we discuss current events through a political lens. The current event topics range from Trump’s Supreme Court picks, to court packing, to the calls for racial and social justice. We also debate more general political questions such as the morality of gerrymandering and why Obama took so long to endorse Biden, his former Vice President. My favorite part of the Politics Club is how it gave me a platform to find my voice. During the first year of Politics Club, I mainly listened and barely spoke. Now, I am an avid participant in the discussions, and I am a fierce, passionate debater. The Politics Club is the largest contributor to who I am today: an outspoken, social justice advocate.”
The club’s origins have always accepted different viewpoints. RMHS does not have a Democrats or Republicans club and instead the Politics club is a place for those who identify with any party. Ms. Bailey shares “It’s always been ostensibly non partisan. It started out as a debate club. And for some reason people found that more intimidating than arguing about politics so we rebranded the year after it started.”
Many people in the club have been coming back each week because they feel it’s a great place to talk about their views and learn from others. Student Alex Shikhanovich (‘22) shared “I joined the club because I was interested in learning more about politics. I stayed because I met people who I enjoyed talking to and had great debates with.”
One of the more popular clubs with 10 members coming back each week, the club is well known and admired for their dedicated members. Each member says that they feel the club fosters a great space to share their views and learn from others. Co-president Margaret Coles (‘21) “This club is a great place to not only talk about politics but become a more critical thinker, better debater, and helps form my opinions and give me a chance to express my views in a way that feels appreciated and constructive.”
In a normal setting, the club officers would have planned election watch parties and trivia/game nights. In light of virtual meetings, the club will not be able to host these events but they hope to do something similar, virtually. The club will continue to have meetings and help students develop political knowledge. Check out the RMHS Politics club on Instagram @rmhs_politics_club.