By Kathryn Khalvati, Marin Catholic High School
In the early morning of Tuesday, April 17, high school students from Napa Valley to Orange County and in between congregated with the California Federation of Republican Women at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento for its 37th Annual Advocacy Day.
The event, started in 1990, serves a purpose to educate California’s youth to be good citizens and future leaders through guest speakers, participation in stimulating workshops, tours of the Capitol, and meetings with legislators and political officials.
The program is making students more aware of their State Capitol’s purposes and functions and how they can become active participants.
The 2012 Advocacy day began with a light breakfast and was followed by the pledge of allegiance led by the Color Guard. The students then listened to guest speaker Senator Jean Fuller express the importance of active registered voters. “Politics is all about power, and power is all about teamwork,” she told the crowd.
The program proceeded by escorting its students into a separate meeting room where three guest speakers awaited them. Chandra Sharma, a director of technology and new media, Christy Cozby, a lobbyist, and Micah Grant, Deputy Communications Director for the California Republican party, took turns informing one third of the group at a time about their respective fields. With Sharma, students explored the methods of producing an effective campaign strategy.
Grant taught students about importance and responsibility attached to social media in politics. Cozby gave students a look into another route of politics by sharing her experience as a lobbyist. The mini interactive lectures culminated in a mock campaign in which two volunteer students, assisted by the whole student body, developed campaign platforms for congressional office in a Republican primary.
By noon, students transitioned to the capitol with their respective groups to meet their local politicians.The twelve students from Marin County had the chance to speak with three politicians.
First, the students had a private lunch with Don Perata, former Senate President Pro Tem. Perata passionately and honestly spoke to the students about everything from the tobacco tax initiative to the UC Budget cuts, to getting involved in the government. “This is your world now,” Perata concluded. “It’s up to you.”
The students then met with Assemblyman Jared Huffman, who talked to the students about specific issues in Marin County, including the SMART Train and redistricting. He concluded his talk by encouraging the students to follow their passion and see where it takes them.
Next, the students met with the Legislative Director for Senator Mark Leno, Carlos Machado. Machado graciously spoke to the students about the legislative work he has been doing with the senator, such as producing new revenue. The day concluded with the special opportunity of meeting with California’s governor, Jerry Brown.
The once-in-a-life-time experiences and valuable knowledge acquired throughout the day truly had a positive impact on the students. Marin Catholic Junior Jacob Wabeh said, “I loved making a real life situation through creating a campaign strategy.” Sophomore Olivia Poletti, also from Marin County, said “Listening to Don Perata speak was a highlight for me because he had a lot of insight on the ropes of politics.”
Overall, students throughout California left Sacramento feeling inspired and confident in their capabilities to become the future leaders of California.
The 12 Marin County student leaders were selected and sponsored by the Novato Republican Women, Federated.