During a week when our nation has been transfixed with mid-term elections, Mayfield students, too, took action—as prospective voters, young women of faith and student journalists intent on presenting accurate and balanced government reporting.
Our Vocal Voters club pre-registered more than two dozen students in the lead up to the election and on Tuesday emphasized the importance of voting by handing out “Every Vote Counts” stickers across campus. During their club meetings, they studied the issues and ballot initiatives.
“I believe that learning about our country's democratic system at such a young age will foster a lifetime of civic engagement and hopefully motivate more young people to vote,” said Sofia Avila ’20, a leader of Vocal Voters. “We want to encourage more young people to get involved in politics so that our voices are heard and represented in our government.”
Sofia said she and other club members have worked to raise campus awareness about the importance of voting and understanding candidates and ballot measures.
“We've initiated important discussion surrounding our own civic duties, and identified ways we can improve voter turnout in our communities,” she said, adding club members also made voter awareness posters.
In theology classes, discussions turned to Catholic social justice teachings that call on the faithful to be responsible citizens and stewards of justice.
Nora Warren, Theology Department Chair, said students, in the midst of the political season, wrote mock letters to an elected official, either commending or urging action on an issue of human dignity, the common good, or a preferential option for the poor as a way of learning the process of civic engagement.
Encouraging students to become faithful political activists is rooted in the teachings of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the “Care of our Common Home,” Mrs. Warren said.
“If indeed the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics, the Church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice,” the encyclical said.
In anticipation of the elections, Theology III students examined the U.S. bishops' pastoral letter, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" and their responsibility to engage in the public life of our country.
Students learned that listening with respect and seeking common ground when they have differing viewpoints is key to respect.
Juniors followed up their theology lessons by committing to regularly serve breakfast to guests at the St. Francis Center downtown.
"Just seeing I made someone's day better with breakfast and encouraging words really made my day better—they gave me a new perspective," one student commented after her morning of service.
“It's inspiring to see our students bringing joy and hope to the people they serve, and reaping the rewards of sharing their gifts with others,” Mrs. Warren said of classroom lessons that translate into action.
And, at time when cable news politics coverage can turn into shouting matches, election day brought dignified news presentations in AP Government class. Students worked for weeks studying the First Amendment and produced mini news documentaries in which balance and research was emphasized over opinion.
“It was very meaningful to be able to analyze the First Amendment with my project group and AP Government class as a whole,” said Alexxa Riley ’19, who is co-editor in chief of the Mayfield Crier student newspaper and intends to pursue a career in journalism. “In today's political climate, the press is under a lot of fire, so, knowing my rights as a reporter as stated in the First Amendment is a valuable tool for any and all journalists.”
All these activities, both in and outside the classroom, are designed to bring political and social justice awareness to our students in a way that reflect the philosophy of our Catholic, Holy Child education that seeks to “meet the wants of the age.”
“Looking back on the past few weeks, I think we have definitely made students more aware how important it is to engage in our civic responsibilities,” Sofia said.