Student political activism heats up

By Ariel Rivkin
Published: November 2010

Politics. It is not a word that excites many of today’s young adults, especially judging by the tiny 18 percent young voter turnout in the recent midterm elections. But for some of South’s current and recently graduated students, politics is not just exciting; it is a passion.
While many teenagers relaxed poolside and spent time with friends during the summer, senior David Altman was waking up early, putting on a shirt and tie, and commuting to the State House where he interned for Senator Cynthia Creem.
Interning in the State House during the summer may not be at the top of the typical teenagers “to-do list but for Altman, it was simply following a life-long interest.
“I’ve always been interested in politics. I really liked watching the presidential debates in 2004 and again in 2008, and liked watching the national conventions. I just wanted to find something really interesting to do during the summer so I emailed the office of Senator Cynthia Creem as well as the office of Ruth Balser, Altman said.
Altman was offered to intern in multiple offices; something not usually offered to young adults. But Altman felt Senator Creem’s office would be best.
“I chose to intern for Senator Creem because it’s a bigger office and I felt I would get a better experience, Altman said.
Altman, who helped Creem with her reelection campaign, felt that the experience was unique. ¨“I went to debates, met voters and made calls, but I also got to meet interesting people like Martha Coackley and Deval Patrick, Altman said.
“I felt really lucky to be able to have the experience. Even though I wasn’t getting paid it was really cool to be exposed to such intelligent people.
Alongside Altman, 2010 South graduate Isaac Freedman also worked for Senator Creem’s reelection campaign. Freedman, who now attends Colgate College, intends to major in Political Science and credits his experience at South for getting him involved in politics.
“I got involved during my junior year in high school when a teacher suggested that I get involved in the Mayor campaign in 2009. I took his suggestion and started campaigning and had a great time, Freedman said.
To continue his interest in politics, Freedman took AP Government during his senior year. It was this class that helped Freedman further his interest in politics.
“It was a great class and I learned so much and I was fortunate enough to be chosen to participate in a student government day at the State House, Freedman said. “I met Senator Creem there and decided that I really wanted to get involved.
Freedman enjoyed his experience campaigning.
“It was a great experience, Freedman said, “I was able to see a whole different side of the world and I realized that the world goes beyond South. I liked knowing that what I was doing could really have an effect on a number of people’s lives and I had an opportunity to change lives for the better.
Through politics and interning, Freedman had the opportunity to learn from the people whom he visited.
“I loved campaigning¦the best part is going door to door and seeing that we’re all pretty similar even though we have different ideologies or may word our views a bit differently from one another, Freedman said.
In addition to Altman and Freedman, South senior Catherine Martin, is also greatly interested in politics. After spending a year working for the House of Representatives, Martin brought an interesting perspective regarding politics back to Newton.
“In DC I heard countless debates and bills that they were trying to pass. It was really exciting to see legislatures being passed because those are going to affect many people’s lives, Martin said.
“I was on floor of house when the health care bill was passed. That was really interesting,
After returning from Washington DC, Martin is still involved politically as she is a member of the United Newton Youth.
“Were a small group of kids who discuss important issues and speak with adults about the benefits or harms that those issues can cause. Most recently we worked to make sure that ballot initiative three was not passed¦Luckily it wasn’t, Martin said.
Martin enjoys speaking with different people regarding politics.
“I think it is really important to get involved and realize that not everyone thinks the way we do in Newton, it’s weird to meet someone from South Carolina who is completely against your opinions. It’s an experience which really makes you think and I don’t think a lot of kids have that opportunity, Martin said.
Many Newton South students who are of age to vote took advantage of the recent governors’ election and voted. Senior Jake Eisenberg, voted in this past election.
“It was really cool to vote¦it was really cool to feel really involved. I think it’s important for everyone to get involved because we can make a difference, Eisenberg said.
With the Martin’s dedication, along with Freedman and Altman, South may very well soon graduate a future mayor, governor, or even President.

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