Governor Howard Dean Brings Politics to Life After Speaking to WJ Students

Alex Baden

Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean addressed a crowd of students at Walter Johnson on December 11th.

Less than a half hour drive from WJ, exactly 18.16 miles by way of MapQuest, lies the capital of the nation and heart of the federal political world. While many politicians have offices in Washington, D.C., a large fraction of them live in Bethesda. WJ is able to reap the benefits of living in such close proximity to the Capitol with the ability to have politicians as guest speakers, such as Assistant States’ Attorney Maura Lynch, former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry and most recently, former governor of Vermont Howard Dean on Dec. 11 speaking in the Reddick Auditorium to the AP NSL students during second and third period.

Dean shared his knowledge and first-hand experience with the listeners, using his political expertise to embed more broad-based life lessons in his speech. Dean spoke of outliers within demographic trends to show that you can never safely predict the behavior of others and encouraged students to keep their eyes on where they want to be in the long term.

“Those who don’t learn from history, are doomed to repeat it,” said Dean. “That’s why you take government classes.”

WJ does not acquire these special guests solely on the basis of physical proximity, but takes advantage of the connections within the school between students and their political celebrity government-employee relatives.

Dean was contacted through his cousin, sophomore Skye Horner. Horner organized the event over Thanksgiving with Dean and the idea fell into place when she returned to school.

“I thought it would be perfect because we’re studying [Dean] in AP NSL,” said Horner. “I think it was helpful, from a student’s view, to hear a real life example. [His visit] was inspiring to show people that you can be a politician and make changes.”

Washington, D.C. provides WJ with the advantage of learning from more tangible sources, instead of from videos and readings. The ability for WJ to have such speakers gives students the chance to see how the lessons taught to them in class can be applied to life.

Social studies teacher and coordinator of Dean’s visit Jennifer Hall, feels students are fortunate to live in such an actively political area.

“We’ve watched several movies with Dean in them, so it was nice to see the real thing,” said Hall. “Our location lends itself so well to the study of AP government. We’re so lucky to be so close to the hub of the nation’s politics while absorbing this information.”

* This article has been modified from its original version.