BY KATE MESSAM AND JILLIAN CORNACCHIONE
Students from Newbury, Lordstown and Wadsworth anxiously waited all day for the Senator Sanders rally, the very first rally they would get to experience on the trip.
Arriving in Cedar Rapids hours before the event began, the students lined up at the front of the stage in order to snag the best spot possible. The group immediately drew attention to themselves as they were approached by several different news outlets, and they even did some reporting of their own.
“After speaking with Mike Maniglia, a documentary filmmaker from the Sierra Club, he told me that he is currently pitching a documentary for Netflix and has one on Amazon Prime. He has also told me that he had two documentaries that have been broadcast across the world,” said Axel Mueller, 11.
Singer-songwriter Lissie kicked off the Sanders rally, performing a few of her originals, as well as some cover songs.
Outspoken Sanders supporter Michael Moore then took the stage. Moore spoke about the reasons behind his endorsement for the candidate and helped build excitement for the night to come.
Students were starstruck when actress and activist Susan Sarandon came out beside the stage to show her support for Sanders. After some students asked for a picture, Sarandon chatted with them for a moment.
“Thank you,” said Sarandon. “You are the change this world needs.”
Former Ohio senator Nina Turner was also among the crowd of famous faces. Wadsworth students asked her a silly question, wondering if she knew where Wadsworth was located, unaware of the lighthearted relationship that they would soon form with the politician within just a few minutes. Turner became interested in the Wadsworth High School Newspaper, and even gave the students a personal shout out on stage in front of the entire crowd.
“I had never heard of her before the rally,” said Abby Wichterman, 12. “But when she started talking, I fell in love with her energy. She came over and talked to us a few times, and it was so cool that a big politician would care about high schoolers from a small town in Ohio.”
Turner carried on with her speech, emotionally informing the crowd as to why they should continue their support for Sanders. Turner is now the co-chair of the Sanders 2020 presidential campaign.
Iowa politician Stacey Walker followed up with a sit-down conversation with representatives Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal, and Mark Pocan. The four discussed a diverse variety of social issues within the country, however, they did not forget to voice the intense adversity Sanders and his supporters will face throughout his campaign process.
“We know that when we fight today to get Bernie Sanders to be our president that that fight doesn’t end there,” said Omar. “We have to make sure that we continue our mobilization in order to be able to implement many of the policies that [are] going to get us that better America.”
After the discussion wrapped up, Walker introduced “the smartest man in America”, Dr. Cornel West. West is a renowned philosopher and political activist who attended Harvard University at the young age of 17 and has been exclusively endorsing the Sanders 2020 presidential bid.
The audience erupted as Sanders’ wife, Dr. Jane Sanders, walked on the stage, the last speaker of the night before the candidate himself spoke. Jane showered her husband with compliments and emphasized his credibility as the potential democratic nominee.
“He is as honest as the day is long, and you can count on his consistency, as we all know,” said Jane.
As the cameras flooded the base of the stage, it was clear that Senator Sanders was moments away from coming out to speak himself.
The instant Sanders stepped on the stage, hundreds of enthusiastic supporters of the democratic candidate erupted in cheers, shouting his name repeatedly and ferociously swaying Bernie signs above their heads.
Sanders initiated his speech by expressing gratitude to all the individuals who had endorsed him and spoke in his favor prior to his arrival. He then switched his focal point to his strong viewpoint on President Donald Trump and the current legislative administration.
“We cannot have an administration that is corrupt, we cannot have an administration that thinks they are above the rule of law, we cannot have a president who clearly does not understand the constitution of the United States of America and who does not understand the separation of powers,” voiced Sanders.
He called upon his supporters, whose vote he stated his strong dependence on, to caucus for him and promised that if he were to come out of the 2020 presidential election victorious, he would bring drastic change to the nation
During his speech, Sanders spoke passionately about various topics regarding the main policies he has constantly stressed throughout his campaign. Some of these policies include an increase in minimum wage, free healthcare for all, a substantial crack down on gun control, women’s equality in the workforce, and abortion rights.
Although numerous political ideologies were addressed in Sanders’ speech, one popular policy that sent the crowd roaring was climate change.
“We are facing a global crisis and those people who deny that reality are doing extraordinary disservice to their own children and future generations,” said Sanders.
He stated that he would declare climate change a national emergency and take the necessary measures to help the growing concern for our planet.
Another policy that gained strong support is his stance on the legalization of marijuana. Sanders stated that he believes that marijuana should be legalized on a national level for medical purposes.
“Every time Bernie would say something that was a really big statement, I would look back and see hundreds of signs shoot up,” noted Chris Steele, 12. “Throughout the whole speech, the crowd never seemed to lose any hint of energy.”
Finishing his speech, Sanders walked past the crowd, shaking their hands and thanking them for their support.
The Sanders rally concluded with yet another special guest appearance from Vampire Weekend, a popular American indie rock band from New York City. The music group drew a large amount of attention from the crowd. They performed hit songs, such as Harmony Hall, Unbelievers, and This Life. Many students, along with advisor Eric Heffinger, danced and sang along to the catchy music.
With the long, party-like rally coming to a close, the Ohio high schools students piled on the bus. Meeting and making connections with the high-up political figures was an unbelievable experience for all. The event left everyone smiling and anticipating the future rallies that they will attend.