Atlanta Public Schools was excited to partner with AMB Sports and Entertainment, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, Rock the Vote, and New Georgia Project on a first-of-its-kind initiative, Democracy Class Atlanta, leveraging sports and entertainment to celebrate civic education and engagement and spread the message that there is “no off season in democracy.”
Held on Sept. 28, APS and Rock The Vote hosted the National Voter Registration Day pep rally for 11th and 12th graders at the Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Students and staff were filled with excitement during the event, which featured games, prizes, special guests, and even a ferris wheel and zip lining!
The pep rally was also filled with special guests who wanted to encourage and excite the students about voting. Big Tigger of V-103’s “Big Tigger Morning Show” and BET’s “The Basement” kicked the show off, followed by Kenny Burns of V-103’s “The Kenny Burns Show.” There were also live performances from Rotimi, and Atlanta’s own Lil Yachty!
Rock The Vote is a 31-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit dedicated to increasing young people’s political awareness. Through Rock the Vote and Atlanta Public Schools, Democracy Class is a free, nonpartisan curriculum that educates high school students about the importance and history of voting and pre-registers and registers them to vote.
Educators have access to additional lesson plans featuring:
- The history and importance of voting
- Modern-day voting rights
- The importance of local elections
- How voting impacts issues
- The 2020 Census
To ensure young people had a say in the curriculum, 10 APS students served on the Atlanta Youth Civic Advisory Council which helped shape the curriculum for the Democracy class. The council includes Zakai Beck, a senior at Carver Early College; Anne Ware and Kaden Prater, both juniors at Carver; Raymond Bedell, a senior at Frederick Douglass High School; Kelly Tran and Annie Robinson, both seniors at Midtown High School; Titus Graves, a junior at Maynard Holbrook Jackson High School; Elizabeth Millman and Jaiden Thomas, both seniors at Maynard Jackson; and King Walker, a senior at Booker T. Washington High School.
The program comes at a time when young people across the country have become more civically and politically active in their communities.
(Photos by Rock the Vote)
During the event, Board member Aretta Baldon pumped the crowd up.
“Your vote counts! You can make a difference in our democracy! And the best and fastest way that you can do that, the way you can impact real change, is from the local level,” Baldon said. “We got together with the leaders here in Atlanta because Democracy Class Atlanta and Rock The Vote seemed like the next great partnership to keep this momentum going that we’ve built. And by we, I mean you and us together!”
Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring also shared an empowering message about the importance of voting.
“We don’t want you to lose the sight of some power that you have, and that power is in your vote!” Dr. Herring said. “We recognize that if we really want to see a change in our community, and if we really want to make a difference, it starts with each of you!”