Congressman Heck Visits GATES

Congressman Heck Visits GATES
Posted on 10/23/2018
Congressman Heck Visits GATES

“Should voting be mandatory?” This was the question that GATES High School students reflected on as Congressman Denny Heck entered their classroom. Most thought that it should be optional, stating that forcing people to vote would infringe on the freedom not to vote. A few stated that it should be mandatory, citing a need to engage voters in the democratic process. Congressman Heck listened intently to students’ perspectives and offered his own civics lesson on countries around the world that have mandatory voting laws followed by his reflections on voter turnout trends from recent elections. Students stayed after class to share about journey to GATES and to inform Congressman Heck of some of their perspectives on Washington’s 10th Congressional District.

Heck in Civics Class

Despite a busy schedule, Heck made time to visit with GATES students to learn from their unique perspectives as students, and to make sure that students know the significance of their participation in the democratic process. GATES Civics teacher, Michele Rupe invited Congressman Heck to visit a few months back, not expecting him to have time to visit with students. She had met Heck in February, when she joined a group of students in attending the Drug-Free Communities Summit in Washington DC and was pleasantly surprised when his office contacted her to identify a date and time that would work.

After joining the Civics class, Congressman Heck joined all students at an all-school assembly. Students welcomed the congressman to GATES by gifting him GATOR Gear and sharing information about what makes their school different from others. His remarks ranged from sharing about the joys and frustrations of serving as a politician and his journey into politics, to the many ways that his constituents have influenced his vote over the years and his ability to handle criticism.

Congressman Heck Assembly


“Why should I vote?” one student asked. Heck’s response took the room by surprise, “You shouldn’t. You shouldn’t vote….if you don’t care about your community, if you don’t care about your future, if you don’t care about our economy. You shouldn’t vote if you don’t care, but I see lots of people in this room that care about a lot of things, and because of this, I think you should all vote”.