Freshman starts Park chapter of Minnesota High School Democrats

Freshman starts Park chapter of Minnesota High School Democrats


Beck Bergland

Freshman Gabe Kaplan introduces members to club’s goals at High School Democrats of America meeting Oct. 17. Kaplan began the club with Social Studies teacher and adviser John Gonzalez.

Yonit Krebs

This article has been changed to correct errors. Echo apologizes for the mistakes.

Rolling around on the atypical chairs in social studies teacher and Minnesota High School Democrats club adviser John Gonzalez’s classroom, freshman club member Ilana Baum played kahoot and talked with her friends at the club’s first meeting.

Although the club’s meeting was attended by mostly freshman, Baum said she is hopeful more students will join in the future.

“(To combat the lack of grade diversity), we can put up more posters and talk to people from other grades,” Baum said.

Freshman club founder Gabe Kaplan said he started the club after receiving an invitation from the Minnesota High School Democrats state chair.

“I was invited to do (Minnesota High School Democrats) by the state chair of high school Democrats, who is my brother’s friend at Southwest High School, and it sounded like a really good opportunity,” Kaplan said.

At the club’s meeting Kaplan introduced the club’s two vice presidents, freshmen Koby Davis and Dahlia Krebs, and explained the club’s goal of issue advocacy.

“We’re going to mainly do something called issue advocacy where we pick an issue, learn about it and then do something about it,” Kaplan said. “It’s really up to (the members) what issues we focus on. For example, at Southwest High School they are doing environmentalism environmental reform, and they actually wrote up their own city resolution in Minneapolis.”

Baum said she likes the idea of having a forum where students can discuss ideas and try to make real change.

“I think (having a Minnesota High School Democrats club) is good because we can get our opinions out and people might join,” Baum said.

According to Gonzalez, since a teacher must remain objective, he experienced hesitation at being the club’s adviser. However, after speaking with social studies department chair Carley Kreggness, he agreed he would advise the club.

Kaplan said he chose civics teacher John Gonzalez as the club’s teacher advisor because he’s met only a few teachers in his first month in high school.

“Gonzalez is my civics teacher and as a freshman I don’t know that many teachers yet,” Kaplan said. “He seemed like a good person and he was willing to do it.”

According to Gonzalez, his role is to be present and assist with logistics and provide a space for the club to meet, while the students take charge with regard to creating the club agenda and facilitating meetings.     

Kaplan said a handwritten complaint about lack of Republican representation was written on one of the club’s posters.

“(There) was just one person who wrote on a poster,” Kaplan said. “I believe the note said something about there not being Republican presentation. Of course they just have to start a club and if they put in the effort they can start one.”