bipartisan panel discussion at Miss Porter's School

FaceUp 2022 Bipartisan Summit

Student Authors: Kat Cokeley ‘25, Leah Glaspey ’25 and Lucy Newmyer ’23

On Sunday, October 23, 2022, the Miss Porter’s School advocacy club, FaceUp, held an interscholastic bipartisan summit entitled “It’s Time To FaceUp: The 2022 Midterm Elections.” After months of planning, FaceUp heads Kat Cokeley ‘25, Leah Glaspey ‘24, and Lucy Newmyer ‘23 were thrilled to host students from Porter’s and Ethel Walker for a day of civic learning and action. 

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Miss Porter’s School students ready for the panel discussion with bipartisan politicians and community leaders.

To kick off the event, Newmyer facilitated a conversation with Janet Brown, the Executive Director of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Brown shared insights from her early political experiences and her 35-year career with the CPD and reminded audience members of the importance of civic engagement and debate.

Brown’s address was followed by a bipartisan panel of representatives and candidates moderated by Cokeley and Glaspey. Connecticut (CT) State Representatives Mike Demicco, Jahana Hayes, and Robyn Porter, and candidate Laura Devlin offered advice for students interested in political careers and tips for how to get involved in elections as a minor. The discussion centered around the experiences of girls and women in politics, and audience members left inspired and ready for their action sessions that afternoon. 

After a lunch break, attendees reported to interactive breakout sessions developed and run by Porter’s students Laurel Benson ‘24, Maren Frey ‘23, Leeah Han ‘24, Ellie London ‘24, Savannah Smith ‘24, and Fiona Suslak ‘24. These sessions focused on a variety of topics related to voting, democracy, and American politics. Students left these conversations with a wider view on subjects like voter registration laws and healthy political dialogue. This filtered into the second set of breakout sessions, led by experts.

FaceUp was lucky enough to have two organizations present about their work concerning democracy and social justice. The first was The Connecticut Mirror, a bipartisan and nonprofit journalism organization that reports specifically on policy in Connecticut. Erica Philips, one of their economic reporters, led a session with students where she discussed her experience working with The CT Mirror and writing on politics through a finance lens. 

Gus Marks-Hamilton and Anderson Curtis from the Connecticut American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Smart Justice campaign presented their recent work and goals for the upcoming legislative session. The Smart Justice campaign works to end mass incarceration in Connecticut through legislative change. The campaign is run by people personally impacted by Connecticut’s legal system, making them more qualified to speak on its issues. FaceUp has been working with Smart Justice since last winter, so returning students were able to reflect on the policies the ACLU has passed over the last year. Curtis and Marks-Hamilton inspired a passion for a more equitable legal system in everyone who attended the session. Overall, the expert breakout sessions provided valuable insight grounded in Connecticut political experiences for all students who participated.

Ultimately, the event leaders fulfilled their goal of creating a space for students to learn and discuss topics surrounding the 2022 midterm elections. Often, people not eligible to vote feel that making any attempt towards civic engagement is futile, but this event showed attendees that there are plenty of other meaningful ways to get involved with politics. 

The FaceUp heads would like to thank faculty members Sophie Paris and Dr. Katie Ayers, the administration team, and the Flik staff who helped pull off the summit. This event would not have been possible without them!