Chase Alphin and Abby Peterson don’t agree on much when they talk politics. Alphin, a junior, is president of the Young Republicans club at Lincoln Southeast High School. Peterson, a senior, is president of the school’s Young Democrats club.
One thing they do agree on: People need to change how they talk about politics.
Alphin and Peterson took turns reading the following joint statement over the school’s intercom system on Wednesday morning during student announcements:
"In light of America's recent tragedies regarding school shootings and calls for gun control, we realize that many students have differing opinions. However, it is more important than ever that we are all respectful and listen to each other. Each of us here has the common goal to make schools as safe as possible and this cannot be accomplished without help from everybody, regardless of differing opinions. So both of us, together, are asking for your help. In order to encourage respectful and progressive conversation, it is important that everyone, on both sides of the political spectrum, are listening and working to understand the other person's point of view. Let's all work together to create positive change."
Alphin and Peterson sit next to each other in economics class. They didn’t realize at first they were leaders of the school’s Republican and Democratic student clubs.
“We had a lot of discussion about different opinions we had,” Peterson said, “and we also realized we were able to have respectful conversations because we were respecting each other’s point of view.”
“I thought, ‘Wait, we’re opposites but we can get along?’” Alphin said. “From there, we thought maybe we should come up with an announcement.”
They’ve both grown frustrated with the tenor of political discussion, both on the national level and inside classrooms. It seems even more divisive following the Parkland shooting, Peterson said.
“In a lot of our classes, people had different opinions and that led to some disagreements and disrespectful conversations,” she said. “We knew that wasn’t going to solve anything and we wanted to encourage positivity.”
“I think students have a big role to play,” Alphin added. “I think we can be an example.”
Published: March 29, 2018, Updated: March 29, 2018