Members of the LAHS iVOTE club meet on Wednesdays during lunch. iVOTE is a community service club that fosters civic engagement in the school both by voting and volunteering in the community. Photo Courtesy LAPS
Members of the LAHS iVOTE club who attended the attended the 30th annual Student Leadership Institute posing with Senator Tom Udall are, from left, Elizabeth Frost, James Cassel, club sponsor Michael Montaño, Filippo Delzanno, Nathaniel Turner and Olivia Koo. Not pictured: Noah Lyons. Photo Courtesy LAPS
Back in the spring of 2018, a Los Alamos High School student approached his AP US Government teacher with an idea: let’s create a new school club that fosters civic responsibility. This was the start of iVOTE (Vote, Organize, Think, Educate), a community service club that fosters civic engagement in the school both by voting and volunteering in the community.
In its second year, iVOTE currently has a membership of 15 students according to President Eleanor Henderson. “We want to make LAHS an informed voting population even if some can’t vote yet,” Henderson explained. “Our goal is for students to be politically active and aware.”
Club members helped with the recent voter registration drive at the high school, something very important to them as voters head to the polls later this fall to elect three new school board members and decide on the GO bond. One of their goals is to increase youth voting among eligible high school students.
Club members also helped at the recent candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. “We want to get people engaged so they want to go out and vote,” Henderson said. Students are also planning to volunteer at voting locations on Nov. 5th. Early voting begins Oct. 8th.
Looking beyond local elections, the club is also promoting civic engagement for the national elections. As the races heat up for the Senate, House of Representatives and the presidency, iVOTE will debate the candidates and the topics shaping the political climate.
Several iVOTE members attended the 30th annual Student Leadership Institute hosted by Senator Tom Udall last Friday. The conference is designed to increase awareness of government and public policy. Workshops covered topics such as economic development, national security, energy development, budget priorities and immigration. The day concluded with a presentation by Senator Udall.
“I had a lot of fun meeting and working with new people, as well as learning about the processes that the government goes through to get things done,” said iVOTE member Olivia Koo. “Senator Udall’s Conference was a great chance to see public policy in action and a great opportunity for New Mexico’s students,” added Filippo Delzanno, who is the club’s vice president.
“This was very informative for our students,” noted club sponsor Mike Montaño. “They were able to learn more about current policy and share their opinions.”
The group is hoping to attend the Journalism Under Fire convention in Santa Fe again this year as well as the 2020 legislative session. Last year the club hosted several guest speakers and plan to invite more this year.
On Oct. 9, iVOTE will host Drinks and Discourse in the Topper Library classroom. Along with light refreshments (drinks), the event will be open for discussion on a hot button issue (discourse). For this first gathering, the topic will be, should the voting age be lowered? All high school students are invited to attend.
Other iVOTE officers for the 2019-2020 school year include Noah Lyons, secretary; Joshua Posada, treasurer; and Elizabeth Frost, historian. The club meets on Wednesdays during lunch in Mr. Montaño’s room, A308.
“The iVOTE club is not a partisan thing,” said Henderson. “Our goal is to educate students so that you have a voice and know how you use that voice.”
Anyone interested in joining the iVOTE club is invited to attend the next iVOTE meeting on Wednesday during lunch in Room A308.