Acting Their Age: Nipomo High Students and CAPSLO Activism Efforts

Grace Padden, Co-Editor in Chief

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Student activism is no new phenomenon in the United States. From the Greensboro student-led sit-ins to the more contemporary anti-gun legislation-focused activism of the Parkland High Shooting survivors, students make no secret of the fact that they are not too young to be politically minded, or politically active. But in small town Nipomo, how has activism been made a priority, and how do we maintain it as one? Several organizations and individuals who work in our community were willing to speak on the issue.

The Gay-Straight Alliance of Nipomo High School would not be the same without the help of volunteers from Community Action Partnership San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO). In the past, CAPSLO has offered Sex Ed classes at Nipomo High, working with Life Skills teachers to give students essential information on sexual health, mental health issues, and reproductive system processes. Later this year, CAPSLO will be working with Nipomo High Drama to do Teen Monologues, a theatrical set of monologues, skits, and poems about mental, and sexual health as well as social issues.

In the GSA club, a selection CAPSLO volunteers attend meetings to discuss contemporary LGBT+ issues, how to combat homophobia, and how to become involved with the LGBT+ population outside Nipomo High to lend young voices to the community.

¨Your words matter to the world outside this school,¨ said Heather, a regular attendee, as she looked out on student club members with such gravitas that not one person doubted her. She gestured to each of us in a sweeping arc. ¨Get out there. Talk to Women´s March organizers, donate to charity, volunteer with us; you can and will make an impact in the world if you work hard enough to be heard.¨

A great wave of students seems to have done just that in the past few years. Many Nipomo and New Tech High members of the GSA and general student population participated in the Women´s March SLO and the March To End Violence earlier this year, in conjunction with sister movements across the country that responded to the high rates of mass shootings and violence across the United States.

Katie Padden, student aide for Mr. Deichler´s AP United States History and AP Government classes, also weighed in on the necessity of student participation in organized events like marches, protests, rallies, and other displays political efficacy designed so that the young can make their voices heard.

¨We´re young. We aren´t allowed to vote yet,¨ she said with fervor, rapping a pen against her Government notebook, where the 26th Amendment proclaimed the voting age a hard eighteen. ¨So political activism, as far as I believe, is a take-it-where-you-can sort of thing for us. We need to take every opportunity offered to us–no matter how microscopically it involves us in the political process–to express our rights to express our political views. Deichler told us it´s our civic privilege and duty to vote. I believe him, and I´m going to exercise my right to vote as soon as I can.¨

Activism is important to the students of Nipomo High, and organizations like CAPSLO and Women’s March SLO help students to gain a public platform and access resources they ordinarily would not have, for which our school community is exceptionally grateful.