An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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School Board Candidates speak on issues at local restaurant

District 3 seat holder, Ken Zeff, speaks at the Metro Fresh event Midtown High Votes held to spread the importance of voting.
Carys Brightwell
District 3 seat holder, Ken Zeff, speaks at the Metro Fresh event Midtown High Votes held to spread the importance of voting.

The Midtown High Votes club hosted five school board candidates to speak on different issues and personally connect with students at MetroFresh on Nov. 1. 

Through this event, Midtown High Votes aimed to teach students about the items on the candidates’ ballots and the importance of voting in local elections.

“We [Midtown High Votes] decided that we wanted to do something different with this event,” junior Tyler Austin, one of the leaders for Midtown High Votes, said. “Something we haven’t done before. Taking out the trash and waving to the people on the BeltLine wasn’t enough, so we decided to get in touch with all of the runners of the school board.”

Austin thought the event would be a good opportunity for students to meet those who could potentially change policies that would affect them. 

“We thought it would be a great time for students to meet the people running for office and also be an amazing opportunity to talk and interact with people who are going for positions of power in the education system,” Austin said. 

Jason Slaven, history teacher and sponsor for Midtown High Votes, said this type of event is beneficial to increase overall student awareness of the education system.

“A lot of students are not really aware of the larger political structures and government structures that go into making the schools function,” Slaven said. “The entire purpose of the event wasn’t for campaigning; it was for students and board members to just interact so the students can get a better sense of the board, and so the board can get a better sense of what goes on.”

Newly elected District 3 Representative Ken Zeff attended the event and said it created an important connection between the school board and local students.  

“I loved this event because we heard directly from students,” Zeff said. “This was not adults asking questions about adult issues; it was students asking adults about student issues, and every time I get into an event with students, I’m always blown away by how thoughtful and prepared students are and I’m excited. This is our future, so it’s exciting to see students engage.”

Seat 9 candidate Jessica Johnson, Seat 7 candidate Tamara Jones and District 3 winner Ken Zeff talk to Midtown High Votes’ teacher sponsor Jason Slaven.

Slaven believes that students should be aware of what goes on within their school board because their decisions impact education a lot. 

“If you want to create change, you have to see the system and be aware of the system in order to create that change,” Slaven said. “Even if you can’t vote, your parents can vote. Even if you can’t vote, you’re still a constituent of these governmental systems. You can still talk to these people and they’ll still respond to you because you’re part of the system. You can influence other people to vote or speak directly to these voters.”

Zeff believes that students and voters can benefit from engaging in person with candidates. 

“What I love about this event, and what I love about what Mr. Slaven is doing in his classes, is showing firsthand that the people who make the decisions are regular people that you can talk to and you can influence,” Zeff said. “Your board members work for the voters. So it’s the job of the board members to show up, to listen and to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to give you the opportunities that you need.”

Junior Ivy May attended the event and thought she gained a lot of knowledge about what each candidate’s priorities were for the district. 

“The candidates all expressed the goal of connecting more with students and the community which is something very important to me,” May said. “It was very insightful being able to talk one-on-one with all of the candidates, and I was able to get all the questions that I had answered. The most interesting part of the event was hearing the differing perspectives all of the candidates had when answering the audience’s questions.”

Austin believed that he had positive personal experiences and conversations with the candidates, and believed they were open to conversation with Midtown students.

“I think it was amazing how they were all so open to coming down and talking to us,” Austin said. “It’s important for both students and candidates to have a solid connection with each other considering that these are going to be the same people who make the decisions for our school.”

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About the Contributor
Carys Brightwell
Carys Brightwell, News Associate Managing Editor
Carys Brightwell is a junior and this is her third year writing for The Southerner. She is the secretary for Beta Club and is a part of the Latin Club, SGA, Book Club, Earth Club, First Century Leaders, and JSU. When she's not spending her time writing she's either with her friends, playing the bass, or sewing something new.

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