Registration for our generation


Senior Reese Robinson putting up a When We All Vote Poster in the history building.

Will Bumgarner, Staff Writer

    The voting registration movement has reignited at RJ Reynolds High School, just in time for the upcoming November elections.

    After the pandemic left many school clubs and organizations in shambles, social studies teacher Cristofer Wiley led efforts to restore the When We All Vote (WWAV) movement. 

    “When We All Vote is actually a national initiative,” Wiley said. “Michelle Obama is the national chair, and it is a nonpartisan nonprofit group that tries to close the race and age gaps in voting trends.”

    In the fall of 2019, a group of ambitious RJR students created their own voter registration drive, a Reynolds division of the When We All Vote movement, and won a national competition for their actions. Unfortunately, the club dissolved following the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

    “This is the first year where we really feel like we’ve got our feet on the ground again,” Wiley said. “After a tough year last year, students are engaged again, and we can get back to the business of doing some good teaching, and beyond that, in terms of extracurricular, of giving them something better than what they sort of left back in 2020.”

    Wiley has already begun to gather student interest as they restore the movement. 

    “The homeroom club process is new, and getting everybody on the same page is a little tougher than anticipated right here at the start of the school year,” Wiley said. “But each of those ten or twelve students are sold on the endeavor.”

    RJR senior Reese Robinson is one of the core individuals leading this campaign. 

    “I heard about the formation of this club from my softball coach, Mr. Wiley,” Robinson said. “Voter registration is important to me because there are so many important issues that impact people’s everyday lives on the ballot.” 

    The group is currently in the process of restarting a My School Votes club as a part of this initiative. Following that, they’ll be involved in organizing a school board candidate forum on October 12th. 

     “My School Votes is a subsection of WWAV,” Robinson said. “The goal of WWAV is to fight voter suppression and to increase voter turnout. The goal of My School Votes is to get students involved in the elections.”

    Wiley thinks it’s essential that students know who represents them.

    “When we have a new school board, we may very well see tangible changes in January,” Wiley said. “Students, as the people who these things happen to, should be aware of them.”

    The first step in this movement is incorporating these ideals into our academic environments.

    “Students should have some say in the matter,” Wiley said. “Part of my job as a civic literacy teacher is to teach them how they can affect the outcomes, even if they can’t cast a ballot just yet.”

    As the group rebuilds, they hope to inspire others and make a real difference in students’ effect and involvement in the democratic process. 

    “It’s an invitation to the table where the decisions are made,” Wiley said. “The first time your society tells you that you are regarded as an adult, and you have a say and a voice that matters as much as anybody else’s. Rich, poor, black, white, old, young, one vote is one vote is one vote.”