Throughout the course of the year, students enrolled in government are required to demonstrate active citizenship by interacting with government officials, participating in political process (voting) and/or becoming informed about legislation, candidates and issues. In the fall, students at Pioneer High School took a close look at the presidential candidate debates and reflected on the use of technology as it relates to their individual access to and the country’s awareness of the political process and the issues that can come as a result. Finally, as a class, students discussed personal efficacy as it related to civic engagement.
This semester, coinciding with the 79th session of the Nevada State Legislature, the government students at both Pioneer and Carson high schools were invited to listen to a presentation by Assemblyman Edgar Flores.
Taking the students out of the classroom, where we viewed the debates, and face to face with a representative was an engagement opportunity that we felt we could not pass up.
The students all made sure they had a plan to complete any missing work they might have once attending this presentation in the library at CHS on Wednesday, March 1.
The PHS government class arrived on time with excitement and anxiety, not truly knowing what to expect but being prepared to engage with a representative from a Northern Las Vegas District.
Sitting in the once-familiar library for a lot of students, some students were able to positively engage with their senior peers still enrolled at CHS and the atmosphere was both professional and electric as the students filed in awaiting Mr. Flores and his team.
From the minute Mr. Flores entered the library, we could tell he was going to be quite different than how the media, textbooks and history describe our nation’s lawmakers.
Mr. Edgar Flores captured the students immediately by explaining to us how being the chair of a committee in the Legislature requires the consistent management of difficult conversations. These difficult situations we all go through are unique opportunities to learn about ourselves and reflect on the purpose and objective of committing to our individual growth or the success of our job.
Mr. Flores continued to inspire the students in attendance by advising perseverance, reflection on individual journey rather than status, and the role of family in accomplishing the goal of graduating high school as well as encouraging the students to continue on a pathway that will uplift the community and our families past graduation.
As part of the Carson City School District’s learning guide and target for this activity the PHS students reflected on the following questions as result of their engagement with the Assemblyman and the advisement he provided: How does active participation affect democracy? How can I educate myself about politics? And how can individuals shape public policy? In conclusion, some of the student’s responses follow: “When you have people participate in all aspects of government especially the younger crowd it affects Democracy greatly. When people get connected politically it gives both sides all information necessary to vote logically not out of random,” said Andres Garcia.
“The biggest message I got is if you want something there should be no excuse of why you can’t set a goal and reach it. With this being said to answer the question above, I can educate myself about politics by researching, observing, and simply putting a little bit of my time into wanting to learn,” said Nick Franklin.
“Active participation affects democracy by first of all being informed about a legislator and their intentions or beliefs. I can educate myself about politics by going to meet these legislators or researching more about them. Individuals can shape public policy by voting, expressing opinions, and provide information to politics,” said Maribel Montes.
“I participated by being respectful and understanding what the speaker had to say. I heard the following advice from him: do not give up because when we were babies learning to walk, we didn’t give up. Even if you were to try and stand up and fall never give up but try and eventually you’ll get it,” said Sandra Ibarra.
Jourdan Rowbottom is a teacher at Pioneer High School.