Town hall meeting brings politicians to stage

Payton Romans, Managing Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

When glancing in through the small rectangular window of special program teacher Tim Griffin’s classroom, there are no screens present. No chromebooks, no cell phone games of Kahoot, none of the typical educational technology. . Instead, one finds Griffin’s students partaking in a socially extinct form of communication: writing letters to their politicians.

These letters are not simply for a grade but serve as invitations to attend Perry’s fourth annual Town Hall Meeting.

This event is organized and implemented by Griffin’s special needs classes. After receiving responses from a handful of local politicians and officials, the planning begins. A free assembly, open to the public, is held in the auditorium.

During the event, city and state politicians are free to share words of wisdom and advice, specifically their belief in the importance of voting.

“We need your voice in local government,” Jeff Bennett, Deputy Mayor of Community Development, said. “And how do we do that? You can allow your voice to be heard.”

Aside from inviting the guests, which is no small task, students also run the show. From serving as MC, advertising the event, asking questions and receiving a personal proclamation, students are the driving force.

This year, Perry’s stage welcomed nine politicians, including a judge, an IMPD lieutenant, a clerk, a councilmembers and district director. Each person had five to seven minutes to speak to a varying audience of students, staff and community members.

In the crowd, students arrived by the bunches. Whether with their entire class or by themselves during their lunch periods, Falcons found a way to see their officials and ask impromptu questions.

To better inform the school about the Town Hall Meeting, Griffin’s classes wrote, directed and acted in their own skits and songs that appeared on Falcon TV the week before. The skits, ranging in content and messages, were all centered around the phrase, “You get what you get when you don’t vote,” a theme Griffin’s classes came up with in 2013.

Students also paired with Then and Now, the school’s top show choir, to perform original parodies. Their re-creations included “Please Vote for Me” in place of “YMCA,” by The Village People, and “You Make Me Want to Vote” in place of “Shout,” by The Isley Brothers.

These videos were played during the meeting for the enjoyment of the audience and left the political figures smiling and bobbing their heads to the beat.

The meeting started with a presentation of the flags from a group of IMEX members, creating a layer of patriotism across the auditorium with the strict beats of their march, followed by senior Zachary Van Vactor leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

To begin the ceremony, judge and Perry Meridian alumna, Kim Mattingly, walked across the stage,her robes trailing behind her, stepping up to the podium to stress the importance of school-wide elections like Student Voice, saying that it starts teenagers off on a good path for the real world.

“We are all here to encourage you to vote, which you all have been doing in your schools here for years,” she said.

Last, IMPD Lieutenant Kendale Adams instantly made his presentation interactive by demonstrating the importance of voting with having everyone who believed PMHS was the best high school in the world stand up. Most everyone in the audience stood with a whooping cheer.

This, Adams stated , was what voting was all about. He admitted there would always be a few who do not vote, or, in this case, stand, but it is a responsibility of the people to try.

After a brief question and answer session, Griffin and his students made their final appearance in front of the crowd, where the teacher spoke of how proud he was of his students and the growth he has seen out of them in the last couple months.

“At the beginning of the year, some of these kids would not say a word,” Griffin said. “But now, they volunteered to speak in front of politicians and their peers, and I am so proud. This is their state championship.”