Silver Chips Online

Montgomery County High School Democrats hold kickoff event

Many local politicians attend in hopes of encouraging political involvement

By Jenna Bushnell, Online Features and Humor Editor
September 21, 2008
The Montgomery County High School Democrats (MCHSD) held a kickoff party at Magruder High School yesterday. In addition to providing an opportunity to organize members from respective high schools, the event featured guest speakers, discussion forums and elected official meet and greets. Much of the discussion centered on the upcoming presidential elections, and attendees were offered opportunities to volunteer.

Student members of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC), Blair senior Lindsay Brewer and Northwest High School senior Edward Krasniewski, hosted the second annual event. The two are co-presidents of the MCHSD, and they coordinated appearances from elected officials such as U.S. Representative Donna Edwards of the 4th District, which includes Silver Spring.

More than 30 people attended the event, among them Democratic club presidents from schools from around the county. "We had a very good turn out," Krasniewski said. He did mention that fewer people attended the gathering because of another political event being held by Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who represents Maryland's 8th District, elsewhere in the county.

Speakers also included State Senator Mike Lenett and members of the Montgomery County Council, including Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich and Valerie Ervin. They discussed their backgrounds in politics and spoke of the importance of student participation. Elrich appreciated the enthusiasm about the Democratic Party and was happy to see youth involvement. "It brings new blood into the party," he said.

MCDCC works hard to involve adolescents in politics and allow elected youth to experience campaigning, voter drives and other political events in close proximity, according to its core members. "We work through high schools," Karen Britto, MCDCC chairwoman, said. "We have outreach to schools, and get the presidents to contact students there."

During the meeting, the co-presidents discussed their desire to unify Democrat clubs that exist independently across the county, so that they have the same structure. They are looking to conform the clubs, which in the past have had different names and agendas, according to Krasniewski. They also want to expand the clubs to private high schools so students can "have access to political outlets," he said.

Brewer and Kraniewski stressed the importance of finding successors for the schools' clubs. Brewer is president of Blair's Young Democrats club and hopes the club will continue to exist after she graduates, because participation county-wide is declining. "We lost a lot of presidents from last year," Krasniewski said.

The speakers encouraged students to continue to get involved with the political process and offered numerous volunteering opportunities at the local and congressional level, as well as for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign. "You have influence," head of Montgomery County for Obama and MCDCC member Elly Shaw-Bellidia said, addressing the audience. "It's astonishing what the youth can do."

Editor's Note: Lindsay Brewer is a Silver Chips section editor.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/8490