Hershey Montessori’s Upper School students recently held an Election Conference as part of their Humanities project. The conference brought students and experts together, virtually, to discuss issues around elections, specifically, reforming the election process and governance.
The students, led by Hershey guides John Buzzard and Jennifer Snead, connected with several adult experts, including Diane Silver from FairVote, an organization that champions electoral reforms to give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans; Cyndi Lucas of Citizen Congress, an app that lets users send their views to federal representatives and vote on bills, nominations, and questions introduced in Congress; Drez Jennings, a writer and expert on politics and media; and a former student of Buzzard, Sara Abdul-Rahim, Associate Director of Development at Georgetown University.
Students from Oak Farm Montessori in Indiana, Montessori School of Winston-Salem in North Carolina, and Beacon Academy in Illinois joined Hershey students and these professionals to discuss several areas of interest. Topics included election reform, ranked-choice voting, immigrant voting, felon disenfranchisement and vote by mail.
The conference was a collaborative effort that brought forth several issues that students were able to give voice to and engage in a critical thinking process that allowed them to express their ideas and concerns over the election process and governance.
Students were afforded the opportunity to give presentations that were followed by a question and answer session. A student action panel made up of students from all the schools also discussed how to take action and get their voices heard – a conversation that was facilitated by expert Cyndi Lucas and by Hershey student Kylie Golden-Appleton.
“We were thrilled with the turnout of students from other schools and the passion that they brought. The student action panel allowed the students to connect around their political ideas, and to find a community of young people eager to take political action. It felt like a way to take one of our responses to the COVID pandemic – working virtually – and make it a strength,” said Buzzard.
Hershey is pleased to provide students with experiential education opportunities that provide real-life skills and insights.
Both the students and experts gained better insight into these important, relevant topics and what our next generation of voters can do to improve them.