Time to Vote: NAHS Hosts a Memorable Guest as Democracy Advocate


Democracy Pro: Warriors enthusiastically welcomed Lin-Manuel Miranda into the building for a captivating conversation.

“I am not throwing away my shot.” This quote is a good reminder of the importance of taking advantage of our opportunities. On Wednesday, October 19th, North Atlanta High School welcomed a very special – and secret – guest into the building. Introduced by senior Karen Palacio Echeverría as “patient zero for the theater kid epidemic,” was award-winning director, actor, and lyricist (such work including this inspirational line), Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

Best known for creating the sensation that is Hamilton – a musical on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton – it comes as no surprise that Miranda himself is a strong advocate for democracy. Working for Michelle Obama’s organization, When We All Vote, Miranda has been visiting schools around the United States. The purpose of these visits is to have conversations with Gen Z students about how our generation perceives their right to vote and why it is sometimes difficult to act on. As election day approaches, developing a strong understanding of the political state of our country has become more important to voters. In the lives of these teenagers, open conversations about politics are often avoided or silenced, making it more difficult for them to develop their opinions and believe in the power of their vote. “The issues on the table are ones that will affect your generation when I’m gone,” said Miranda. “So I think that having greater youth turnout would be a game changer.”

The key point of this visit was understanding. Miranda’s intent was not a talk planned to tell students what they need to do or how to do it right, it was simply an opportunity for those involved to discuss the reality of first-time voting in this generation—a conversation that is not always had. A group of seniors from across APS schools sat on a panel with Miranda and discussed the benefits and challenges of voting for first-time voters. “It was really illuminating to me, and hopefully, we left a little more inspired and galvanized to vote in this election,” said Miranda.

Growing up in a very politically active family, Miranda has always understood the importance of voting and filled out his voter registration form the day he turned eighteen. However, not everyone grows up with the same access to political discussion, a fact that has motivated Miranda to use his voice to encourage others to use theirs in a way that will truly make a difference. “We can talk all we want on social media and that’s great,” said Miranda. “But the vote they actually count is the one tabulated on election day.”

Many eligible voters in the United States do not submit a ballot on election day. The reasons behind this decision are numerous. People lose faith in the government, disagree with the candidates, or simply feel their voices do not matter. However, as Miranda discussed with the seniors on the panel, the issues that our votes affect are issues that will shape the future of the country and the world. Topics such as climate change, immigration, and choice. “These are issues that hit home for your generation, they’re not abstract at all,” he said. “That, I think, is what leads you from apathy to action. 

Democracy is the foundation of our country, but it is a system that can only support a country of citizens who support it. Encouraging this new generation of voters to use their voices, as well as enabling them to do so, is the first step to ensuring the growth of a government that advocates for every person in it.