State Representative Bryan Terry, MD, is looking to get more youth involvement in politics. To do so, he has partnered with students at Central Magnet School to co-sponsor legislation this session. Mr. Allen Nichols instructs a class at Central Magnet entitled Contemporary Issues. The class focuses on teaching students about the constitution, as well as, debating current topics and issues.
One of the assignments for the students was to volunteer on a political campaign. Said Bryan Terry, "Before school started, several of the students helped during my primary. When classes began, students were asked as an assignment to volunteer on various campaigns. I had probably twenty or so Central Magnet students get involved in my campaign in some capacity."
After the campaign, Dr. Terry thought about how he could pay back Mr. Nichols and his students and get them further involved in the legislative process. Dr. Terry reached out to Mr. Nichols with the idea of presenting the class with some legislative ideas that he looked to sponsor. If the Contemporary Issues classes could debate the issues and choose a topic, then Dr. Terry would sponsor or co-sponsor the legislation and keep the class up to date on the legislation.
Mr. Nichols had this to say: "I have the pleasure of teaching high school seniors contemporary issues. In our class, students get involved in citizenship by volunteering for local campaigns and simulating legislative sessions over real proposed bills. This year has been most exciting with an election and a new legislative session for the Tennessee General Assembly. Students enthusiastically debated several bills that are being brought up in Nashville. As a result of our class time devoted to current legislation, these students are more in tune to proposals that will have an impact on them and their families. While they had differing views from across the political spectrum, students appreciated the opportunity and are already seeking new opportunities for additional bills."
In deference to the class and Mr. Nichols, Dr. Terry said he would not make public the students' choice nor their comments. However, he did have this to say: "There was spirited debate on the issues with one topic appearing to generate an overwhelming positive response. As the legislation goes through the process, I will keep Mr. Nichols and the class informed on the status of the bill. As legislators, we must reach out to the youth and encourage their involvement in government. Article one, section one of the Tennessee Constitution says that the power is inherent in the people. It is one of my goals to help empower constituents and the youth through self-governance. I appreciate their enthusiasm and participation."