PACE: Increasing Political Awareness at Gables


Courtesy of PACE

Alumni Aya Hamza and Daniela Parra del Riego presented at the 2020 Politicare event, PACE’s primary service action.

Emmanuelle Desmet, Staff Writer

While many believe politics should be reserved to those who have the right to vote, students at Coral Gables Senior High prove that the younger generation is making waves in society by becoming more interested in the politics of their society. All politically inclined students seeking to expand their knowledge on the most important current events can turn to Gables’ Political Activism and Civic Engagement club as a safe space.

The service club is a relatively new addition to Gables, as it was founded in 2018 by Gables alumnus Nikita Leus-Oliva. The main catalyst for the club’s creation was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. After organizing a successful protest against gun violence at Gables, Leus-Oliva realized that there was no civic-minded club or organization on campus, and thus PACE was born.

The club allows students to engage in open political debate and discussion about the key political issues of the day. Members are also provided with various opportunities to advocate for issues they are passionate about and to become more actively engaged in the political process.

“PACE has allowed me to learn more about politics in an environment where regardless of one’s political beliefs they are accepted. We offer countless civic engagement opportunities for people to thrive within their political tendencies,” senior Marta Rodriguez said.

Politics is present in all of our lives, especially when it comes to marginalized groups of people. Even if you don’t consider yourself a political person, staying informed, voting and having an active role in your community is the one true way we can have power in our democracy,

— senior Rachel Dopico

For instance, at every monthly meeting, links to political campaign websites are provided for both left and right winged members so that they can directly assist the candidates that they support. They can do so by phone-banking, donating or even door-to-door canvassing, and are given the opportunity to earn community service for their work.

Moreover, those who consider themselves to be shy or soft-spoken should not be deterred from attending meetings; PACE’s debates are informal and are focused primarily on learning rather than partisan squabbling. In fact, the club sponsor, Ms. Lezcano, intended for the club to be a space in which members of all political affiliations are welcomed and encouraged to share their beliefs.

“PACE is a place in which any student who is interested in politics, activism or civic engagement can thrive regardless of which way you lean and what your political views are. If everyone were in a club that thought the same, then what fun would that be? The beauty of this club is that people of different views can come together, have discussions and debates, put ideas out there and talk about, argue and debate their ideas in a comfortable manner,” Ms. Lezcano said.

As for the club’s annual events, Politicare ranks among the most major. Each year, select policymakers and representatives of local organizations are invited to speak at Gables. Topics discussed in previous years include environmentalism, mental health and activism, and the goal is to help students understand how politics affects their everyday lives.

Meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month, and the current meeting place is room 2131, although that is subject to change.

At PACE’s first meeting on Oct. 26, the club board educated new members on what the club was all about. Presenting opportunities on how to become more civically engaged and leading a discussion on current events, students were encouraged to participate in the discussion.

Topics discussed included the ongoing investigations into the government insurrection that occurred in January, social media’s negative impacts and negotiations on Capitol Hill about the Democratic Party’s social spending package and infrastructure bill.

A place for those who crave political discussion and for those who are just dipping their toes into the realm of politics, PACE has become a home for all students of Gables. Demonstrating that politics can unite rather than divide and that one is never too young to make a change, PACE is leading Cavaliers into the world of the future.

If you are interested in joining the club, make sure to follow PACE’s Instagram to stay up-to-date with what’s going on.