Over the summer, seniors Elliott Fix, Jimmy Belany, Rian Fantozzi, and Dillon Brown made their idea to bring democracy and change Shaler Area into a reality. The idea was the Student Political Action Committee for Education or SPACE.
SPACE originated over the summer months when Fix and Fantozzi brainstormed the idea of forming a group which would make history at Shaler Area. By June, the group had a charter created and approached school board member Mr. Steve Romac and principal Dr. Timothy Royall.
“Our ambitions were focused on school board policies, adding to class funds, encouraging the student body to be involved in our school’s student government, and in turn creating members of society who were interested and involved in local and national politics,” Fix said.
According to the group’s charter, SPACE is founded on a few different principles including promoting democracy at a scholastic level, increasing class funds through inventive and exciting fundraisers, encouraging school-wide positive behavior, helping Shaler Area become a sustainable higher quality institution for adolescent growth, and assisting the community as a whole.
“Our biggest focus is the center of our name, A. It’s what we are all about, action. Action can mean a lot of things but our ultimate goal is to make Shaler Area a better place through improving class funds, presenting policy, analysis and reform and encouraging charity work as well,” Brown said.
While anyone is able to join the club, the majority of the students involved in SPACE are seniors which creates a tough position for the founders of the group. Fix, Belany, Fantozzi, and Brown are trying to start a successful club with a mere eight months left in the school district.
“We hope to have built a program that years from now underclassmen will join due to its reputation for getting things done. We all agree that we should have begun this our freshman year,” Fix said.
Student involvement is crucial for the club’s survival for the future. Students within Shaler Area are eager for a new and exciting club to start up. Each of the members has their own personal reason for joining the club.
“[SPACE] wasn’t exclusive and I liked that the majority of the proceeds were designated to academic goals as opposed to less impactful causes like school dances and prom tickets,” senior Will Keat said.
While some liked the setup and goal of the group, other students liked that it would inform more high school students on political issues affecting everyone right now.
“Dillon was talking about how it would bring more political awareness to high school students and that seemed like a great idea seeing most of us would vote for Deez Nuts. It’s sad,” senior Zak Marshall said.
Each member has their own expectation for SPACE and that is what makes the club so unique. There are no leaders who make decisions, the student body influences what happens. Other schools around the region have similar clubs but nothing to this extent.
“A program like this would not only make students aware of the world, but make the community aware of the students. A SPACE program would help students connect to the community, bringing the two together,” Belany said.
SPACE held a fundraising booth at Homecoming for people to vote for the winner of the floats. The club made about $300. 70% of that money will be distributed and broken down in the class funds and the other 30% will go into the SPACE account for future fundraisers and events.
Future fundraisers the group is planning include a Super Smash Brothers tournament in the gymnasium, a possible corn hole tournament, and expanding the video game tournament. Also, the club is thinking about hosting a White House Astronomy Night, mock presidential debate, and more in the near future.
As for future goals, the founders want to see SPACE become the absolute best that it can. Eight months is not a very long time to make an impact but with hard work and dedication anything can be possible.
“Long term I would love to see SPACE being an organization beyond just Shaler. That would require a lot of work. Changing the world is never easy,” Fantozzi said.