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The Importance of Political Discourse According to Students and Teachers

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With the midterm elections coming up in a few weeks, some seniors will be old enough to vote for the first time, and it could be a historic election.

Photo: Alex Wojcik Class of 2019 President

Photo by Will Huebner
Discussing politics is the President of the Class of 2019, Alex Wojcik

Some students here at HHS have become quite politically active with the coming midterm elections. Class of 2019 President Alex Wojcik has spent the last year working for Jay Gonzalez, the Democratic candidate for Massachusetts governor, running against incumbent Charlie Baker. He will be voting at the upcoming midterms.

“People should vote if they are eligible. Political action is great for those who are interested,” Wojcik said. “It is also important to be educated. Watch the news in terms of your interests, but also be careful about what you’re reading and watching. Go talk to other people about politics to gain a new perspective, and really look into the candidates before you make a decision.”

Another student in the Class of 2019 that has been particularly politically active is John Youssef. He has been working with the Republican party, making phone calls and door knocking in support of Republican candidates here in Massachusetts, including Governor Charlie Baker and Senate candidate Geoff Diehl, who is running against Elizabeth Warren.

Photo: John Youssef Class of 2019

Photo by Will Huebner
Discussing future plans for an after-school club he runs is John Youssef

“Education is absolutely crucial for those that are voting or planning to vote in the future,” Youssef said. “You don’t want someone thinking that abortion is a tax plan. Politics are going to be very important at all points of our lives, and knowing where you stand is very important to being a contributor in our society.”

Youssef is not one to shy away from political discussion due to his passion for and knowledge of the subject. He has been known to debate topics with friends, classmates, and even faculty members.

It appears that more and more students are becoming outspoken about their political beliefs, and AP Government and Politics teacher Mr. Simoes believes that creating an environment where this kind of political discussion is encouraged is very important.

He believes ideas should be challenged and not ridiculed.

Photo: Mr. Simoes HHS Teacher

Photo by Will Huebner
Working at his computer is history and government teacher Mr. Simoes

“That’s everything. The most important obstacle we face now is people are afraid to express their opinions and afraid to ask questions. Politicians are having less real discussion and more one-sided speeches. We need all politicians to foster real conversation. Both sides of the aisle have been very guilty of this,” Simoes said.

Simoes tries to create an environment where this type of discussion is encouraged so that students can share their viewpoints in class without fear of ridicule. He reminds his class that if they look at the Supreme Court, they can find at least four very smart people that hold similar beliefs to them, and that there are also at least four very smart people that have similar beliefs to the people they oppose.

Another teacher that tries to foster a similar learning environment is Mr. Mulvey.

Photo: Mr. Mulvey HHS Teacher

Photo by Will Huebner
Talking about the future of the United States is history teacher Mr. Mulvey

“That is the number one thing I try to do in class. It’s hard to do when it comes to such controversial political topics, but I want everyone to be able to discuss, support, or oppose viewpoints in a very respectful manner,” said Mulvey.

One of the founding principles of this country is freedom of speech. One teacher, in particular, Mr. Gates, has fought for that right as a paratrooper in the US military.

“We need more people that think like Montesquieu. People that will disagree with every word you say but will defend to the death your right to say it,” Mr. Gates said.

Students and teachers alike hope this civil discourse can continue in the classroom regardless of the outcome of the upcoming midterm elections.

Teachers here at HHS, passionate about this nation, are set on creating an environment where we can be a free and open community for all opinions.

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The Importance of Political Discourse According to Students and Teachers