Central High School Gym Was Filled with Over 200 Eager Teenagers on September 27

Posted by Communications on 9/28/2016

The Central High School gym was filled with red, white and blue and over 200 eager teenagers on September 27, when the school was part of what was billed as the largest school district voter registration day in the country on National Voter Registration Day. Fifteen schools in Phoenix held similar events during the Advisory period. Central had a special guest, the actor James Edward Olmos, who is assisting Mi Familia Vota with registration and get-out-the-vote efforts. He has been active in voting efforts since 1978.


“I beg of you to understand how incredible this day is. Today will mark a historic day in your life. This will be the single most important thing you do., Olmos said. “It is part of being a member of your community and your country. When you walk in to vote, you will feel like never before…you will have a vested interest in our democracy.”


He urged the students to vote, and then come over for photos and autographs with the man who has been in 300 movies, and is probably best known for his role as math teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, or as the film father of Selena, the late Tejano singer.


“I am so proud, I can’t believe it. This is an exciting moment for the District. Seeing this you realize how special this is. It is a model for civic engagement, and it starts in the schools, where students learn what it means to vote,” Governing Board member Stephanie Parra said.


The District’s student Civic engagement committee partnered with the non-partisan One Arizona organization in an effort to educate students about voting and voter registration. Fourteen other agencies volunteered across the District, helping students register.   Students watched a video on voter registration days prior to the event, and received registration forms. Up to 2,200 students who are, or will be 18 by Election Day, November 8, were invited to the registration day activity.


“I have 30 students in my English Honors class, and I encouraged them all to come. Anyone not old enough can find someone who can register; a family member, for instance,” said teacher Jennifer Grbek.


“It feels good. I want to participate in the upcoming election, and choose a president,” student Jayson Montero said.   “I thought it would take longer. I also signed up to get an early ballot in the mail.”


The goal of One Arizona was to register 75,000 new voters, and it has already surpassed 100,000, according to Ian Danley, the director of One Arizona, and a PUHSD Board member.


“This is a great example of what public schools are all about. This is a practical, hand- on civic engagement activity. This is what it means to be an American. “