Advocacy Club meets with Missouri Senator Jill Schupp

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Zoe DeYoung

After their meeting, the Advocacy Club members stand with Missouri Senator Jill Schupp for a photo. Schupp was invited to share her ideas, teach the students about her job and allowed them to ask questions. “For a long time, we have been wondering if we would ever get a chance to speak to a person within the government to make a big impact,” Jaladi said. “I think that getting to speak to [her] answered just that. It was such a cool experience.“

Advocacy Club, led by president and junior Sri Jaladi, vows to bring students together to address current issues in society. The club brought in State Senator Jill Schupp to discuss these issues in today’s society Monday, Nov. 25.

Since the club started in January 2018, members have focused on bringing a voice to students and teaching them how to effectively advocate at a professional level.

“Coming together and talking about issues is a great way to communicate, and we promote that,” Jaladi said. “Advocacy Club is a great way to provide support, give students different opportunities and make them feel like their opinions are valued.”

During the meeting with Schupp, club members focused on improving advocacy skills and learning about her journey to becoming a senator. 

“We talked about how we could go into a political career and how her passion for being a leader helped her become a senator,” junior Leah Schroeder said. “I was excited that I was able to share my ideas and opinions and learn how to make my arguments better.”

Schroeder was grateful for the opportunity to speak with Senator Schupp. 

“Most schools don’t get the opportunity to hear a senator respond to their ideas, like changing the school start times to a later date and making the tax of female and male care products equal. It is a nice opportunity to not only learn, but to also feel confident while voicing our opinions,” Schroeder said. “She told us how she went from a PTO president to becoming a state senator, which was really inspiring. She was also able to speak with each member of the club and give her opinion on each idea.”

We all lack adult experience. That won’t stop us from having an impact,”

— junior and Advocacy Club President Sri Jaladi

Jaladi realizes that most of the club members are students who are under 18 years old and who legally cannot vote.  

“We all lack adult experience. That won’t stop us from having an impact, and after the meeting with [Schupp] we learned how to express our opinions in an effective manner,” Jaladi said. “Anyone should be able to express their opinion, regardless of their age.”

Club sponsor and English teacher Erin Fluchel enjoyed watching the club show that their voices matter and believes that club members can make a difference in the community. 

“People often think that the only way to make a difference is to show up at the ballot box every four years,” Fluchel said. “This club allows students to make an impact even if they are under 18 years old, and it is incredible to see how much of an impact they have already made.”

People often think that the only way to make a difference is to show up at the ballot box every four years. This club allows students to make an impact even if they are under 18 years old, and it is incredible to see how much of an impact they have already made,”

— Club sponsor and English teacher Erin Fluchel

After the meeting, students learned various ways to improve their advocacy skills, such as learning how to communicate more effectively and promoting their ideas by reaching out to the community.

“I think that one of the biggest takeaways [from the meeting] is that it was a great experience, and we learned how to advocate better. Everyone was well-prepared, and we had a very good discussion. We were all able to get our opinions heard, and I think that is great,” Jaladi said. “[Schupp] explained a lot of the current legislation that is being considered, and we learned that it is important to think through all of the scenarios before we present our ideas.”

As the club president, Jaladi is encouraged by the rise in student attendance. 

“One of my favorite things about the club is how open it is to all people. We want more people to join, and anyone can quickly get involved by simply attending one of our meetings and joining our group chat,” Jaladi said. “We learned so much from the meeting [with Schupp], and I hope that it inspires more people to join our club.”