BERWYN (November 30, 2017) – State Senator Andy Dinniman on Wednesday joined Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Robert Torres in recognizing Conestoga High School students for registering 85 percent of eligible students to vote this year – the first high school in the state to reach this milestone.

“Usually, we recognize sports teams on achieving athletic excellence, but today we’re honoring a team that achieved a different and far more important kind of excellence – excellence in preserving democracy,” Dinniman told the students. “In fact, you taught adults and your parents some valuable lessons since the voter registration in this high school is far higher than the county.”

Senator Dinniman with Jahnavi Rao.

Founded and led by Jahnavi Rao, a Conestoga High School Senior, the New Voters Club is a nonpartisan organization comprised of about 40 students who organized a large-scale voting drive to register students who became eligible to vote in 2017.

The club used “Pledge to Vote” cards, recruited fellow students outside sporting events and in their homerooms, utilized texting to reach potential registrants, and even made cold-calls to reach their goal.

As a result, Conestoga was the first high school to receive the Governor’s Civic Engagement Award (Gold Level) for the achievement. In recognition of her leadership, Rao was honored with a special award from Torres.

“We were very impressed at the Department of State when we received your application. We were very excited that you were the first one to get 85 percent,” he said.

Torres also reminded the students of the importance of voting in local and state elections in non-presidential years.

“Yes, these elections may not generate the wide interest of presidential races, but in many ways, they are more important and directly impact the issues that affect us,” he said. “Every vote counts and has an impact. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t let someone else make the decision for you.”

State Rep. Warren Kampf, who was also in attendance, encouraged students to consider directly participating in government and serving their communities by running for office.

“Registering and voting are important but it shouldn’t stop there,” he said. “It can be hard to find candidates for some of these seats. In addition to voting, serving makes a big impact. It’s not easy and there’s a personal sacrifice, but I can’t describe just how rewarding it is.”

Dinniman told the students to keep up the good work and encouraged them to continue to work to ensure that those who registered actually vote. In addition, he invited the New Voters Club to visit the State Capitol in Harrisburg and asked Rao to serves as Senate Clerk for the day.

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