it’s 2017 and i walk into what has been the most difficult class i’ve ever taken. ap government.
twenty four of us sit at our desks with our three inch binders and sweat on our brows, thinking only of the horrors that the previous class has told us.
when he walks through the door, he is all work and no play. he is dressed in a blue button down with the sleeves rolled up, a navy blue tie that has the declaration of independence enscribed upon the front, and in his hand he holds a mug with the american flag plastered on its face.
he is mr. portier. also known as, my favorite teacher.
a couple months pass as we learn about the constitution, the branches of government, the policy making process, and numerous other establishments and happenings.
many sleepless nights have already occurred as my eyes were taped open to create outlines about impeachments and elections.
tests were flunked and notes weighed down my binder, but knowledge began to break through my skull.
in january, mr. portier puts a timer on top of the board that says “the finish line to success” with a countdown to exam day.
every morning, at the beginning of period two, he calls out how many days until our impending doom.
the following two saturdays are spent in the cafeteria, pouring over any missed material, in the five hours we have left to review with our teacher.
“2 days, guys.”
the day before the ap test, mr. portier looks at us and he says, “get a good night’s rest tonight, don’t overstudy, and if you’re prepared, you’ll do fine. i’m proud of all of you for sticking with it.”
the following morning, i get up.
i take the exam.
i feel okay.
in the month following the exam, the month before the end of school, we do individual presentations.
i do mine on the gun debate in 2018.
i compile research about parkland, statistics on americans, gun laws in the us and in my state, information on the nra; i eat, breathe, and live gun policy for a good two weeks.
after my presentation, i go to give the clicker back to mr. portier, and he extends his hand.
i look at it.
i look at him.
and i shake his hand as he says “good job.”
and at that moment, i realize what i want to do when i grow up.
you see, i had spent the past sixteen years changing my mind from veterinarian to lawyer to teacher, but when i saw the affirmation in his eyes, the approval in his smile, the pride in my chest, i knew i was going to go into government.
i have spent the last six months more politically aware than i have been in my entire life.
i can tell you the impact of the midterm elections on the policy that will be pushed by the president, the case of the saudi journalist and what his death means for our foreign policy, the current immigration situations and the pros and cons of each solution; without so much as blinking an eye.
i no longer sit quiet when a political comment is made, for i know how to respond, and believe me, i will.
i debate relentlessly over the possible solutions that forms of gun control could have on our safety, on our children’s safety.
i throw myself for the defense of women in the #metoo movement that are seen as “ruining a politician’s career,” because no, they are trying to stop predators’ futures.
i defend an earth that is begging for enviromental relief, for someone to notice its creeping death that is shrouded in the skeptic’s fallacies.
i know there will be people who disagree with me, for that is the majority of government dealings, but you are wrong if you think that i will let them tell me to stop.
for as mr. portier once said, “your generation will be the one to save mine.”