By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – In December, students at Hudson High School (HHS) found posters in many of their classrooms that proclaimed, among other things, “Ignorance is not bliss.”
The signs are the latest and most visible initiative led by the new “Unity Club” at HHS. Formed by students in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, the unofficial club seeks to improve the quality of political discourse among teens and teach about ongoing stories in American politics.
“After an election like that we need to find some unity and still be able to be critical of our nation’s leadership because any leader is going to have their faults,” said club member and HHS junior Clement Doucette. “We need to be educated and express our opinions in a meaningful way.”
Doucette was one of several students who approached social studies teacher Caitlin Murphy immediately after the election. The students wanted advice on how to process their lingering feelings about the campaigns while staying involved in politics.
After seeking approval from school administration, Murphy answered by offering up her classroom as a place for the students to meet and discuss constructive responses to the issues that they observed during the campaigns.
“They want to see these problems addressed and I think that they have been very thoughtful about how to go about doing that in a way that doesn’t alienate people, regardless of their politics, whatever their view is and whatever candidate they supported,” Murphy said. “They’re not looking to alienate. They’re looking to draw people into the dialogue. As a country, that’s what we have to do.”
For junior Elizabeth Cautela, one of the biggest problems to be addressed is the issue of hate and discrimination. She led the group’s poster project, editing the poster and working with the group to eliminate phrases or slogans that might have solicited controversy.
The group settled on a simple collage of slogans denouncing different forms of discrimination. They were then able to distribute 40 copies of the poster to teachers within the first week of printing.
Through the posters and their other work, the members of the Unity Club hope they can keep their peers interested in the politics that captivated many of them during the recent election.
For club members, this desire to have informed discussions about politics, even as adolescents, remains a key force driving their work as a whole.
“It really gets me angry when I talk to people that don’t know what they’re talking about,” Cautela said. “I feel like it is my duty to show people what is going on. That’s why it’s on the poster; ignorance is not bliss.”