BY: SHAMMY SANDHU
Next Generation Politics at Brooklyn’s largest public high school – Fort Hamilton High School – can be perfectly described in two words: engaging and hectic. Every Monday, club meetings are organized and draw in more than 40 members, making it one of the largest student-run organizations in a school of 4000. These meetings usually last for 45 minutes and range from raising awareness about human rights violations (both domestic and international) to holding debates and discussions on controversial issues.
No matter what the topic is, the role of the club’s Executive Board is simply to serve as a mediator of the discussion. E-Board members only introduce topics and facilitate the exchange of ideas – especially ideas that disagree – because this is the best way for members to gain insight on the perspectives of others and become more open-minded. Expectedly, when these debates revolve around particularly controversial issues (such as abortion or police brutality) they can often become incredibly heated. It’s at this point that the club’s advisor, Mr. Randazzo, intervenes and sorts things out between members in a manner that promotes understanding. In addition, he helps by introducing facts that gauge members’ attention.
Whenever the room becomes too one-sided or those who hold the minority viewpoint are afraid to speak their minds, he is quick to play devil’s advocate, rekindling the conversation.
Though lengthy lessons are seldom prepared, Next Generation Politics at Fort Hamilton is thriving. Unlike most clubs that see their membership dwindle over the course of the year, the club has been able to consistently hold the commitment of dozens of members. Though these members represent every race and demographic in Brooklyn’s largest public high school, they all convene each Monday because of a shared interest in promoting bipartisanship and understanding of public policy and human rights issues.