English 102 Students Research Legislative Officials For First Project

Advocating for Change in their Community


Ashley Harris

Researching legislative bills, seniors Yusra Shafique, Vassily Tan, and Jacob Gallardo expand their knowledge on the government and how it’s run. This research acted as the first step of making Laura Penrod’s students more politically aware. “I’m teaching them adult skills that they need to know how to do,” Penrod said. “Some of my students want to own businesses or go off and have these lives and careers that won’t be possible if legislation passes that doesn’t go in their favor.”

Kailie Sicolo, Staff Writer

Engaging with the legislators that represent our home, school, and work, Laura Penrod’s NSC Dual Credit English 102 class is learning how to use their voice and advocate for themselves and the community. 

“Not all government teachers teach how to advocate and use their voice in policies,” Penrod said. “Just because you learn about how the system works doesn’t mean that you actually engage with the system. English involves writing, speaking, listening, research, all sorts of things, so it’s important for them to know how to use their voice effectively. The bottom line is that just as you have an opinion, does not mean that you have anything to substantiate to be changed. So I’m trying to teach them how to use not only their voice but their writing to make an impact.”

Starting in January, Penrod has hands-on activities planned that will extend the unit up until the beginning of March.

“We are engaging with the legislators directly,” Penrod said. “Right now they’re researching them. After they’re done they’re going to email and advocate for whatever they feel is important in this most recent legislative session that Lombardo gave in his ‘State of the State’ address. I think it’ll be more engaging because they have real world experiences talking to these adults.”

Emails to legislative officials is not all that Penrod has planned to engage her students on the topic of politics and advocacy. Using her connections with the Nevada Independent, her students will write opinion pieces that could be chosen to be published on the site. She also is planning to host a listening session with District 8 representative Duy Nguyen on February 11

“I am offering this to my students who are doing the work for this session,” Penrod said. “Networking is a large part of adulthood, and if I can teach my seniors to do so now confidently, it will only serve them better as adults. Also, teaching them how to have an opinion backed by research and language will always have their voice heard more clearly than through complaining.”

Senior Rachel Radecki is planning on entering the education field after high school.

“By participating in this unit I hope to transpire change in education and change the way education looks like,” Radecki said. “Education is really important for me now and for my future plans. I do believe this unit will benefit me in the future and hopefully help me get my foot in the door in changing how education looks in the state of Nevada.”

After experiencing part of the unit, senior Genevy Machua has learned the importance of government activism and how it can affect her, despite not having past interest in politics before.

“By being informed about who they are and what they stand for, you can make informed decisions when voting and engage with them on important issues,” Machua said. “As well as just having a basic understanding of how the government works can help you hold elected officials accountable and promote transparency and democracy. Whether you are interested in politics or not, this is a good unit to understand.

The skills that students develop from this unit will be applicable to all aspects of life and adulthood. 

“I want my seniors to have experience advocating for changes they want to see in their community and learn how to effectively use their spoken and written voices to take students and young people more seriously in their advocacy,” Penrod said. “Learning to communicate with influential leaders who can make change is an adult skill. Knowing how to advocate for what is important and necessary is something that every young person should know before they leave high school.”