Students learn importance of politics in “First 100 Days” event

Photo by Ariadna Santos. Over 200 high school students came to the Lou Frey Institute Symposium for the First 100 Days event. Speakers from all over the United States came to talk about the current administration and the current issues that are concerning the nation.

The first 100 days of any presidency become crucial in the understanding and actions of the new administration.

The Lou Frey Institute wanted to provide greater understanding by providing a symposium for high school and college students to come together and talk about politics on Thursday.

“In Washington, they really measure, ‘What have you done in the first 100 days?’” said Marcia Bexley, program manager of Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at UCF. “What have you accomplished in the first 100 days? So, that is always really important, and so that is what we are trying to communicate to them.”

According to the UCF Political Sciences website, the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida is a non-partisan foundation. It engages in civic education for college and high school students, members of the Central Florida community and the general public.

With more than 200 students from Boone, Celebration, St. Cloud and Lake Nona High School, the main purpose of the event was to provide greater access to policy makers and also to understand what it takes to interact with the government, said Jessica Squires, assistant director of the UCF Global Perspectives office.

Speakers such as Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, Brigadier General Stephen Cheney and fellow for Public Diplomacy Matthew Wallin brought to attention some of the most sensitive topics being debated in the Senate today. Topics ranged from climate change, immigration, the 2018 and 2020 upcoming elections and the ultimate division in the nation.

The 2016 elections created a division in the country, and it made people think that perhaps they took the elections for granted, said Robert Traynham, vice president of communications at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“I have a sneaky suspicion that those of you that did not care about the elections will care about the 2018 elections,” Traynham said.

Attendees also participated in a mock legislative debate in which they got to vote yes or no on the currently debated Bridge Act, which gives temporary protection to undocumented individuals for three years so they are able to work and receive an education.

“I think just the experience for our students to actually hear college professors because it’s very different than what they hear at the high school level,” said Angela Sewell, 50, social studies teacher at Boone High School. “Plus, they get exposed to all different topics. Today, I brought mostly AP human geography students, and so they heard all kinds of things that we’ve been studying. We have been studying about nature and climate change and migration and all of these factors, so they get very excited.”

Ultimately, the symposium aimed to promote active citizenship and encouraged students to learn more about politics and the role that they play in shaping the country.

“For those of you who feel as though your voice is not being heard, and/or if you feel as though as you want to be part of the process, stand up,” Traynham said. “Stand up in 2018 and actually knock on some doors or perhaps maybe get some folks on Facebook or Twitter to be able to follow the campaign and get involved in the issues.”