HARRISBURG (February 1, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman this week welcomed students from Conestoga High School’s New Voters Club to the Pennsylvania State Capitol to get a behind-the-scenes look at how state government works.
Dinniman offered the group of about 30 students a guided tour of the historic state capitol building that included visits to the Senate Chamber, the House Chamber, and the Main Rotunda, as well as less- publicly accessible sites like the Senate Majority Caucus Room, the Senate Library and the Lt. Governor’s Office and Portico.
<<WATCH Conestoga Students Bryce Bundens, Jahnavi Rao, and Grace Lanouette join Senator Dinniman for his monthly television show, Capitol Update>>
“Civics education is crucial to our schools and there’s no better way to learn how our system of government works than to visit the state capitol and see it in action firsthand,” Dinniman said.
Founded and led by Jahnavi Rao, a Conestoga High School Senior, the New Voters Club is a nonpartisan organization comprised of dozens of students who organized a large-scale voting drive to register students who became eligible to vote in 2017.
Dinniman invited club members to Harrisburg after they succeeded in registered more than 85 percent of their eligible classmates to vote this year. In recognition of that achievement, Conestoga became the first high school in the Commonwealth to receive the Governor’s Civic Engagement Award (Gold Level) and Rao was honored with a special award from Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Robert Torres.
Bryce Bundens, a Conestoga Senior, called the visit a “fantastic, awe-inspiring and eye-opening” experience that reinvigorated the club members’ drive to register young adults to vote and participate in the election process.
“Witnessing democracy at work firsthand ignites our enthusiasm to mobilize young adults in the voting process,” Bundens said. “We can be heard, and we will be heard.”
Grace Lanouette, a Conestoga Senior who plans to attend Princeton next year, said the visit was both memorable and educational.
“I learned a lot about how state politics work and about how much is going on in the Capitol at all times. Above all else, it was wonderful to see such intelligent and passionate legislators working to make decisions to better our state,” Lanouette said.
Rao said the historic artwork and architecture of the Capitol, as well as the opportunity to view democracy in action, furthered her ambition for a career in public service.
“As someone who wants to dedicate my future to the political sphere and public service, seeing the room where decisions are made that affect the population of Pennsylvania carried even more meaning than the soaring gold and green ceiling and full wall artwork,” she said. “Overall the trip was incredible and Senator Dinniman was a fantastic host to the 2018 New Voters group, and we all are hoping to visit the Capitol again soon!”
Dinniman said it was a refreshing and rewarding experience meeting and talking with the students, many of whom are seniors planning to continue their studies at college next year.
“These young people will shape the future of our Commonwealth and our nation. I was impressed by just how well informed and engaged they already are in their communities,” Dinniman said. “I think we both learned a lot from each other during our day together in Harrisburg and I believe we may have even inspired a few young leaders to future careers in public service.”