Candidates in the recent town election took part in assemblies during H block on March 19 and 21 to discuss how local government affects the lives of AHS students.
Senior Charlotte Guterman organized the forum in order to create a dialogue between students and leaders in Andover, as many high schoolers across the country are doing right now. The event took place in the choir room and included seven election candidates.
“I wanted to take the next steps in what feels like a growing political awareness within AHS and the national community in wake of the Parkland shootings,” Guterman said. “Hopefully forums like these will help to engage the student body because we are the next generation of voters…. I hope students left the choir room with a greater understanding of the government in Andover and the knowledge that their voices matter.”
Candidates for town moderator, school committee, and town selectmen took part in the forum. Keith Saxon and Sheila Doherty were running for town moderator, Tracy Spruce, Shishan Wang, and Susan McCready for the school committee, and Chris Huntress, Annie Gilbert, Joe Albuquerque, and Robert Landry for selectmen.
Students may not see it, but local government has a larger effect on their lives than they may think. “Local government affects almost every aspect of our daily lives,” Saxon said. “From the water we drink, how the schools are staffed, the curriculum offered at the schools, recreational/cultural opportunities, library services, how our roads and streets are maintained, how our trash is collected, the types of businesses/services that locate in town, the layout of our streets and homes–I could go on and on. It really has a dramatic effect on almost everything every single day.”
Ms. Robb, the Democracy and Media Literacy teacher at AHS, believes that open lines of communication between leaders and citizens is integral to the success of a governing body. “All elected officials need to know when they’ve done something good so they will do it again,” Robb said. “They also need to know when they have done something that is unacceptable so they won’t do it again. The vote is the power that every generation has.”
Forums such as the one held at AHS help facilitate the conversation local leaders must have with the people they are governing, as well as make sure the individual voices in a population are both acknowledged and addressed.
Guterman believes the easiest way to get involved in student activism is through social media. “The most important thing our generation can do for our government is to speak up and out on issues that we find important at all levels of our democracy,” Guterman said. “We need to use our age group’s unique talent for social media networking to power our movements and build them into the future.”
The results of the election are as follows: Sheila Doherty won town moderator, Anne Gilbert and Chris Huntress won positions on the board of selectmen, and Susan McCready and Tracy Spruce won places on the school committee.
If you want to further your involvement in government and let your voice be heard, register to vote! You can register online at http://registertovote.org or in person by visiting the Town Clerk’s Office.
By Brooke Lenes