Harwood Students In The Limelight!

Imagine sitting on Vermont’s most impressive stage with a powerful national politician. Imagine how it would feel to conduct an interview with him in front of hundreds of people across the state. Two of our very own seniors, Maisie Franke and Jeswin Antony, found out what that was like when they were invited to a Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) organized event. 

On Tuesday, May 16th, Maisie and Jeswin interviewed Eric Holder, former US General Attorney under the Obama Administration at the Flynn in Burlington. They asked him about his recent book on voting rights in America, Our Unfinished March which examines how marginalized groups got the right to vote. Three other students from other schools asked him questions as well, all while in front of hundreds of educators and students from across the state of Vermont. 

Maisie recalled the experience as if it was still happening: “At the Flynn, we’re in the Green Room that has all the fancy stage lights. It was the real deal. And then we were standing backstage. He walks up and we get to shake his hand and talk to him for a little bit. You couldn’t see the audience super well, which kind of helped. It’s more like you’re sitting there talking to him. I was super nervous at first. But he has a really good way of just joking around and lightening up the mood.”

The most important thing Maisie learned was how Holder approaches people who don’t necessarily agree with him politically: “He said, ‘You know, I think it’s important to create space to talk. But also, I don’t think we should all have the same opinions. Like our country isn’t going to improve, and we aren’t going to be able to grow if we all have the same opinions and think the same things.—But when you’re actively trying to take away the ability of others to express their views, that’s when it becomes not okay. And that’s when we need to start to agree on the fact that, you know, we all value our democracy, but the way that we express our views within that should be the same thing.’ I thought it was interesting, because I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

Maisie and Jeswin got this opportunity through UP for Learning, an organization to change education as we know it and help kids and teachers learn better strategies and have different opportunities. This was an amazing culmination of their three years of experiences with “Up.”