Senator Henry Stern was invited to a Q and A session with students, on Jan. 24, in the WHS Library. It was organized by Quinn Muscatel ’20 and Lora Novak, the advisor of the United Nations Association of the US’ WHS chapter.
“I met with Mrs. Novak and we wanted to bring him (Senator Stern) to Westlake to get to know [the] students,” said Muscatel. “He [discussed] becoming a senator and issues important to students [in his speech].”
Novak and Muscatel had met Senator Stern at a political fundraiser last fall. Both of them felt compelled to invite him to WHS in order to talk about his life as an elected official.
“I hope that [students] will learn that our elected officials are real people who are interested in hearing from constituents and that they will be encouraged to take a more active role in government,” said Novak.
Senator Stern opened the dialogue by discussing his journey to becoming a state senator and how current world issues have shaped that path. He stated that he hopes to make California carbon negative by in fact spreading clean air instead of greenhouse gases and lowering the voting age to 17.
“Most politicians don’t focus on the generation from 18-35, or even those who can’t vote yet,” said Stern. “[However] when you’re in high school, you can build that routine of becoming involved in political elections.”
After his 30 minute speech about his platform and his hopes to change California, he began his Q & A session. Participants asked him one on one questions concerning his political platform, and the inner workings of his job as a state senator.
“I think it was good that it made me aware of what the possibilities are in terms of whether we want to do a club activity and … try to make an impact on a larger level,” said Sam Ratcliffe ‘20. “Personally I am a part of a club called Green Alliance on campus here and we are trying to conduct a project to see if we can recommend any sort of policy changes.”
Mostly upperclassmen were present at the meeting, however several underclassmen also joined. Although these younger leaders were in the minority, they still received valuable information about the impact that they as leaders could make.
“Going to the event, I was hoping to learn some things I could do that could not only help my school and my community but even go bigger than that,” said Aviv Shabinsky ‘23. “I definitely learned [Senator Stern] was really about that, he definitely conveyed that.”
Senator Stern’s 45 minute visit to WHS widened students’ perspectives on what it truly means to be in California’s government through personal anecdotes and a glance at future projects for California.
“I’m here; we [senators] are accessible,” said Stern. “You can come up with stuff we can work on and we can make it happen.”