2019 Election Hero

Academics, Upper School

Students Volunteer in 2019 Elections

As part of a civic engagement requirement for all seniors, several students this year devoted 15 hours to working on various local election campaigns. Seniors Abbott P. and Qian G. dove into the Seattle City Council District 7 race, working with Jim Pugel and Andrew Lewis, respectively.

“Getting to actively participate in democracy has been honestly fascinating,” says Abbott, who has spent many of his hours canvassing neighborhoods and waving signs. “Even if you don’t plan on ever partaking in politics at all for the rest of your life, knowing what goes into a campaign on any level, city or national, is essential. It engages you in local politics, and that is important.”

Alongside the volunteer hours, students must complete a comprehensive portfolio examining multiple aspects of a campaign. The portfolios contain at least five journal entries reflecting on the volunteering hours, a personal essay, an interview with the candidate, and analyses of the candidate’s website and media materials.

For many of the seniors, the project is their first foray into the democratic process. As an international student from China, Qian found the project was the best way to learn about the United States system of government.

“I feel much more informed and closer to the local culture because of this project,” says Qian. “This is not something I can do in China, and I’ve learned so much about the U.S. government.”

Qian volunteered at a Q&A event in Queen Anne for city council candidate Andrew Lewis, and that required her to learn the policies her candidate supports, such as an income tax.

“It is a different experience to read about tax policy in the newspaper versus talking about it with people at an event,” says Qian. “To clearly answer people’s questions, I needed to research about income tax and its history in the state of Washington. This project opened up a depth of learning I don’t think I would have received otherwise.”