Political Science Club holds inaugural meeting
By Santiago Alba-Lopez and Mary Harrison
Pictured in the slideshow above are Mrs. Harrell (far right) and her full classroom during the first meeting of the CHS Political Science Club.
The Cairo High School Political Science Club held their first ever meeting on the morning of Wednesday, October 21. Sponsored by social studies teacher Mrs. Austin Harrell, this new club was formed at the initiative three CHS Juniors.
Twenty-three students attended the gathering, which was held in Mrs. Harrell's room and started at 7:30 a.m. Mrs. Harrell handed out donuts, club cards, and an informational form with bi-partisan and non-partisan activist opportunities to those present. Club members also decided their first activity, a fundraiser, should be held on the night of Election Day, November 3, with more information to follow.
A total of 33 students had signed up for the club as of Monday, October 26, making it one of the larger clubs on campus, according to Media Specialist Mrs. Jenny Harrison.
As stated in Mrs. Harrell's meeting agenda, the goals of the CHS Political Science Club are "teaching non-partisan politics" and "higher-level government," "cultivating a friendly debate style atmosphere for political discussions," and "sharing new ideas with peers to increase voting, civic understanding, and citizen government participation."
In addition to discussing potential field trips to the state Capitol and Washington D.C., Mrs. Harrell presented her broader goal for the club's future: "We would like to have a club similar to... [a chapter of] the Model UN," she says.
Model UN chapters are "[simulations] of the [United Nations] General Assembly and its other multilateral bodies where students perform an ambassador role while debating topics such as gender equality, climate action, global health, and more," the USA United Nations Association website states.
At the meeting, Mrs. Harrell also shared a bit about what inspired the club's organization. The Red & Black spoke with the students behind the club to learn more.
PROMOTING UNITY IN DISAGREEMENT
11th-graders Jefferson Davis, Carson Hair, and Jayden Twyman say they approached Principal Mr. Chris Lokey earlier this year about forming two competing political organizations at CHS, Turning Point USA and High School Democrats of America chapters.
Mrs. Harrell explained that to prevent bringing the political division seen nationwide into the high school, Mr. Lokey instead decided to combine the clubs into a single, non-partisan Political Science Club.
They still needed to find a teacher to sponsor them, and that’s when they turned to Mrs. Harrell, who studied history, philosophy, and law in college.
“We believed Mrs. Harrell was the best fit to help with the club, as she knows her politics from the far-left to the far-right,” the three students say.
The club's ground rules for discussions, which prohibit sarcasm and making unfounded claims, among other negative behaviors, immediately display Mrs. Harrell's political savvy.
"I hope through [participating in the Political Science Club] our high schoolers will learn to act better than some [leaders] we see at a national level," Mrs. Harrell said,
"Politics doesn't have to be divisive or negative."
Now the founding members of one unified club, Jeff, Carson, and Jayden say they wanted to organize this year to, “educate the youth on political topics and encourage them to be aware of their future," and because they wanted to start a club where people are welcome to engage in political discussion.
“We want to encourage people to think for themselves, and not base their opinions off what their parents or society tell them,” Jayden shared.
He continued, “[The Political Science Club is] a safe place for people of all political ideologies to discuss the big issues that most adults say we’re too young to discuss. After all, we are the future of this country.”