Allentown’s Building 21 High School Activates Students to Use their Voices and Vote

Written by on June 1, 2020

Allentown’s Building 21 High School Activates Students to Use their Voices and Vote

By Tracy Yatsko

June 1, 2020

Building 21 High School in Allentown. Photo |Tracy Yatsko / WLVR

Building 21 High School in Allentown is one of twenty schools that have been recognized and celebrated nationally by MTV and former First Lady Michelle Obama for student voter registration efforts.

As WLVR’s Tracy Yatsko reports, the local program is designed to give students confidence to get out and vote. 

Voter registration isn’t treated like an extracurricular activity at Building 21. Civics Teacher Shannon Salters integrates it into the curriculum to teach her students the importance of voting and civic engagement. 

“I’m not driving student learning towards some sort of standardized multiple choice assessment. I want to know that after four years of social studies, they feel comfortable going out and doing, and raising their voice advocating for the things they’re passionate about and making a difference,” said Salters .

The school also was one of twenty schools recognized and celebrated for integrating voter registration into its curriculum by MTV and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Salters says she provides a safe space for her students to discuss issues that affect them and their communities, and teaches them that their voice matters, regardless of age. 

“This is how we can change the world by voting for who we want to be president and not only for president for other things as well, and our voice is strong enough that if we wanted to be heard, we can be heard. She gave us confidence. She wanted us to learn and it was like, true and pure from her heart,” said Salters.

Senior Jhon Castro says Salters class provided a safe space to discuss tough topics happening in America. 

“We’re tired of the same thing over and over and over again. If you see something wrong, you can make a change no matter how little it is, yell it out. Scream it out. Make a change,” said Castro. 

Building 21 also won the Governor’s Civic Engagement Award for having 90% of eligible students registered to vote.


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