by Loren Haas

Hardin Valley Academy has had its share of political clubs, such as Progressive Hawks and Youth in Government, but its newest club, Bipartisan Young Americans, is hoping to bring truly bipartisan debate.

“There’s a lot more than one side to all the stressful topics like immigration or health care,” said club founder Brianna Barnett. “I mean, these are things that are affecting people’s lives every day, and people are so one-sided that they’re completely blind. I don’t think that’s right, and if we can get young people to be involved and caring about this stuff and seeing both sides, and then hopefully they’ll make Knoxville a better place.”

The club is meant to have friendly and respectful bipartisan debate. Members of the club already lean differently politically, so both the liberal and conservative sides of issues are going to be represented, but Barnett and club sponsor Celia Moorman hopes the club will go beyond just those two sides.

“The purpose of Young Americans is to provide high schoolers an outlet to learn about politics and talk about politics in a safe atmosphere where both sides of the argument are going to be represented,” said Moorman.

“America’s one of the only developed countries to only have two parties,” said Barnett. “Some countries have fourteen, sixteen… It’s crazy! We’re always saying that we’re so developed. ‘Oh, we’re the best nation!’, but we only have two sides, and the party polarization right now is just crazy, so if we could just get together on some topics, then you might even switch sides on some topics.”

The club also plans on having guest speakers such as State Legislator Martin Daniel, Gloria Johnson, and Legislator Roger Kaine. They are hoping to even have some who act “behind the scenes” attend, such as campaign managers and Bob Griffith, the Chief of Staff for Congressman John Duncan.

“We want to bring in some of our state and local representatives to talk to us, to tell us about issues that are being voted on, so that students can also debate about it,” said Moorman. “We want to introduce bills to the students and have them be able to have some input on that as well. We really just wanted to provide something that was completely nonpartisan so that people felt respected and like they could share their political beliefs no matter what they are.”

The club meets in F114 on Mondays after school on a biweekly basis; these meetings will begin regularly in January of 2017. Barnett hopes that this club will allow the HVA student body to become less one-sided in politics,

“I lean one way on the political spectrum but I hear someone else’s opinion and definitely see where they’re coming from,” said Barnett. “That’s just what it’s all about.”