Students hold town hall

Taryn Robinson, Sports Editor

Manhattan High School students senior Kris Long, senior Sam DeLong and junior Jackson Byerly organized MHS’ first student-led town hall on Oct. 25 at the Anthony Middle School Recreation Center.

“[Long], [Byerly] and I asked questions to the candidates for the first hour and 15 minutes,” DeLong said. “There were six questions about controversial or important issues like the mascot mandate, soft skills in the classroom and others. And then for the last 45 minutes to an hour, students came up and asked the four individual candidates questions.”

These three students organized this event due to the USD-383 board election. They wanted the students to have a say, not just the parents.

“I think the young people just aren’t engaged enough in local politics, they just don’t pay attention,” Long said. “And they should do so because it is way more important than anything that will happen in Washington than to their daily lives, especially on the school board — the school boards making policy that connects directly to them.”

DeLong and Long felt like the students of MHS weren’t involved enough with the politics and decisions that the district made, so they wanted to set up an event that would promote exactly that.

“Basically, we got [Long] from The Mentor and [DeLong] from Young Democrats. They messaged me and were talking with me about having this idea,” Byerly said. “And then eventually we got together to officially plan it out. We talked about getting the USD 383 candidates together for a town hall, but instead of having parents there, we can have students instead since they represent students, more so I would say then parents and other members of the community.”

Long and DeLong had come up with an idea to organize an event that would get the students of MHS more involved with politics, Democrat or Republican.

“My goal was to get people to come and participate in a process that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, and communicate to the candidates,” DeLong said. “It’s like, here’s a whole population that you’re serving, that you’re in charge of, that are interested in investing in what you do, and want to help you make change.”

The three agree that being involved in politics, especially in the community, is extremely important because the USD-383 board’s decisions affect them.

“I think it was a message that one, no matter what kind of party or affiliation you have, we want everyone to be politically active and participate in politics, and two, for people to be engaged in local races that maybe impact them,” DeLong said. “They may not be as interested in local races as they are in presidential elections or the US Senate, but these local races impact them way more so getting people involved in the local community in that way.”

The trio was very surprised with the outcome of the event, as they didn’t expect many people to come.

“I was surprised that there were as many attendees as there were,” DeLong said. I would say there were around 30 to 40 students there, which I thought was actually pretty impressive.”

As this was the first event of its kind, the three students are expecting there to be more like it, when another board election comes around.

“I would love for it to happen every time over the election,” DeLong said. “I think it’s really cool.”