The Coast News Group

Pacific Ridge students discuss local politics with Carlsbad mayor

Above: Pacific Ridge students and Carlsbad officials discussed how to involve Generation Z in local politics.

CARLSBAD – Students at Pacific Ridge School met with Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall and a group of city officials on May 9 to discuss ways in which the city could involve teenagers in local government and politics.

About a month ago, Hall met with the students in Mr. Silk’s United States Government and Politics class to discuss Envision Carlsbad, which was an intensive two-year process which identified the community’s hopes and aspirations for the future of their city.

While the students said city officials’ outreach to residents has been good, it’s mostly focused on young families and seniors. After Hall’s visit, they spent a month discussing and researching ways to get more young voices heard by local officials.

One area of growth they focused on was engaging teens where they spend the majority of their online time, on Instagram. They discussed the ease in which teens can share their opinions, using different tactics on Instagram Stories, such as yes or no polls, and a question and answer format.

“It was very enlightening. It was extremely well done,” Hall said.

While it gave officials a lot to think about, the presentation also bolstered the students’ knowledge of local, state and federal government.

“U.S. Government can be kind of dry, learning about each of the branches and reading for hours about legislation. Getting to learn through experience, like in mock debates, brings what we’re learning about to life,” said Pacific Ridge senior Katie Meitchik.

The panelists encouraged the students during their presentation and asked questions about social media. It was a part of the larger course goal which uses project-based learning to give students a more comprehensive understanding of politics.

Senior Zoe Sipe said the experience working with Hall opened her eyes to local politics. “I was excited they took us so seriously. We’ve done mock debates and simulated supreme court cases but this time, our project had real world implications.”

Other city officials that heard from the group include Vice Chair of the Carlsbad Planning Commission Roy Meenes and former chair of the Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees Tracy Carmichael.

The same class hosted a mayoral forum last October for Mayor Hall and Councilmember Cori Schumacher, who ran against him in the 2018 election. The students crafted questions about topics that are important to them, including gun safety and homelessness.

Mayor Hall and the students plan to continue the discussion with Carlsbad’s communications officials and involve students from Carlsbad Unified School District. He also wants to include teenagers as communications interns so the city can be more attuned to the voices of Generation Z, or those born in the mid-90s and beyond.