K-W students jump into politicsFor many young people, filling out a ballot on Election Day is the first time they get to take part in government. But two students from Kenyon got a jump start on the process.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
For many young people, filling out a ballot on Election Day is the first time they get to take part in government. But two students from Kenyon got a jump start on the process.
Sarah Hildebrandt and Garrit Born, both juniors at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School, not only attended the Kenyon caucus Feb. 7, but from there, were also nominated to represent the city at the county convention March 3.
“It was a great experience,” Born said.
The pair attended the caucus last month to earn extra credit points in Dan Rechtzigel’s American government class. It’s a proposition the teacher offers all of his students every election year.
“I want them to see it … just to get the idea and feel for what it is,” Rechtzigel said. “It’s really hard to explain a caucus in a classroom. It’s much better to go in person.”
But it’s not very often that his students get to participate in the county convention nearly a month later. Rechtzigel said the last time that happened was at least 10 years ago. Still, he said he wasn’t surprised Born and Hildebrandt were selected to move on to the convention.
“Both are very social and engaging, very smart and interested in politics and economics,” he said. “They always ask good questions.”
Still, when a fellow student nominated Hildebrandt to be a delegate, she said she was surprised. Born, on the other hand, said he already follows politics closely, and eager to be involved, nominated himself.
“I thought it would be a fun thing to try to do,” he said.
Hildebrandt said the fact that she and Born are so young is what helped them win the nomination.
“All the older people loved that we were there,” Hildebrandt said of the caucus. “They thought it was great that younger people were there.”
Once at the convention, which was held at Goodhue School last Saturday, Hildebrandt and Born listened to speakers, including Congressman John Kline, and participated in the straw poll.
After that, resolutions were brought forward. Hildebrandt said two of them were whether parents should be required to attend driver’s education classes with their teenagers and whether a personal finance class should be required for high school students.
“I wasn’t expecting there to be issues that affect us,” she said.
In addition to the extra credit they earned in Rechtzigel’s class, both Hildebrandt and Born said the experience has also given them a new perspective on the election process.
“After going through this, I know who to vote for,” Hildebrandt said.
For Rechtzigel, he said he’s happy that his students got to see the election process from the ground-up, adding that caucuses are where the groundwork of any political campaign begins.
“It all originates in school cafeterias… by people who show up,” he said.