Students reflect on volunteering for Anna Kaplan campaign

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Amelia Ferrell (left) and Madeline Cannon (right) canvassing for Anna Kaplan

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Over the summer, many Townsend Harris seniors became involved with Anna Kaplan’s New York State Senate re-election campaign after the school promoted the opportunity via email. THHS requires all seniors to complete 10 political service hours as part of their US government classes, and this Long Island Democrat’s fellowship provided a convenient avenue for many to fulfill the requirement early on, as efforts primarily spanned from July to November. The Classic spoke to seniors who got involved with Anna Kaplan’s campaign about their experiences. 

Senior Gary Yang chose to participate solely because he needed service hours. Others said they were inspired by this year’s in-school election simulation. 

“I decided to volunteer for Anna Kaplan after learning more about the election simulation and the position she was running for. I was interested in her campaign and saw other students were helping her advertise,” said senior Alisha Mahadeo.

Students in the fellowship assisted the campaign in a multitude of ways. “I participated in phone banking, digital organizing, and policy research projects,” senior Aissatou Lam said. “I used a website where it called people for me and provided me with a script to read off of,” Alisha added.

Senior Chris Chen said he believes that students actively participating in local elections is beneficial since they become more civically engaged as they inch towards being able to vote themselves. 

“If students are the next generation of voters, they need to be informed, experienced, and mature before they cast their first ballot,” said Chris. “Being involved in specifically local elections encourages participation in city wide or statewide elections. These are often targeted towards your particular community but are the most overlooked.” 

Through volunteering for Kaplan’s campaign, students reported learning valuable lessons. “[Creating] a family-first [atmosphere] is vital to developing a strong campaign. The Anna Kaplan fellowship prioritized a ‘daily energy meter’ to break the ice and warmly welcomed new members, making the fellowship more enjoyable,” Aissatou said.

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