Student Campaigning Begins in High School


Mylynn Hopper

“The best moment was being able to have a productive conversation with the other side, the Democrats. I had a conversation with a lady for a good couple of hours at an event. We were able to civilly debate and kinda come together with our similarities. That was a very cool experience,” said senior Austin Kinnear. Kinnear has met many people though campaigning, which he credited as one of the positive aspects he gains from campaigning.

Mylynn Hopper, Staff Writer

High school students are encouraged to be involved in and out of school in many ways. One student may be practicing with their teammates, working on new routines and strategies in order to succeed in their next game. Another may be spending their Saturday afternoon working in a soup kitchen, feeding the homeless. Whatever the activity may be, students often partake in activities for various reasons. Of all reasons, students are mainly encouraged to try to give back to the community. This can be done by reading to younger kids at the library, donating toys to an animal shelter, and even going door-to-door campaigning for a local office candidate. 


Some students choose to give back to the community by campaigning in political parties to help promote local politicians and persuade people to vote for them. 


Austin Kinnear, 18, is a senior who campaigns for local candidates around the community.


“I did door knocking, I put out yard signs,” Kinnear said. “I did a lot of door knocking. There [were] thousands and thousands of doors to knock. I knocked all over Virginia Beach, … all over the district, from Military Highway all the way to pushing Green Run area.” 


Kinnear, who campaigns for the Republican party, first started campaigning two years ago for Rocky Holcomb.


“I did grassroots campaigning for Rocky Holcomb from late September to early November for his campaign for state delegate,” Kinnear said. “I had worked from two years ago when he ran, did some similar stuff but not quite as involved, then I had the connection that I got involved, again, the past year. 


Grassroots campaigning is a more personalized method of campaigning that involves contacting individuals and getting them to vote via tactics like door knocking. Along with it, there are many other roles that take place within a campaign.  


“So the whole campaign, there’s people that door knock. There’s the campaign manager, he oversees everything. He taught me how to door knock, how to do all that kind of stuff. There’s a few people that were a little bit older than me; I was probably the youngest, that kind of do the same thing but then there’s people that are looking at voter data, polls, stuff like that to figure out what we need to do, social media people. Then there’s a guy running himself, he has to be advised. Grassroots was kind of the focus, so a lot of knocking.” 


Kinnear makes time to participate when he can. When he is able to contribute, campaigning can be a tedious and lengthy task. 


“This is like part-time for me, so I go to school, do my thing, whatever I got to do that day. It was pretty much like I was able to make my own schedule, I was given walk books, so that would be…it’d be like a neighborhood and it would have a bunch of addresses in it with names, and I would go to those doors; I’d give my pitch and then write down whatever they said, whether it was like a specific issue or if we already had their vote, or if I had to swing them, all kinds of stuff like that. I would say I probably would do maybe a hundred houses a day, that would probably take a few hours. Sometimes, I was bouncing all around the place, driving around. I’d park my car and then I’d walk, walk however far I had to.” 

I wanted to make an impact. I was told, from the beginning, if I stuck with this ‘til the end, I could have an impact. I knew it was good experience, I was going to be able to make some connections, get some service hours, and just learn some new things from it.

— Austin Kinnear


Kinnear took the opportunity to help with campaigning as a chance to help make his mark on the community.


“I wanted to make an impact. I was told, from the beginning, if I stuck with this ‘til the end, I could have an impact. I knew it was good experience, I was going to be able to make some connections, get some service hours, and just learn some new things from it.” 


While Kinnear took part in campaigning to help politicians he supports, campaigning is also something he can relate to his future. 


“I’m gonna major in political science in college, so I figured this was kind of a good start and a good connection to make. If I ever needed an internship or anything like that, I knew it would help me there. I do plan on maybe working in politics in the future. I plan on joining the military after college at the moment, but we’ll see what happens after that. Politics is definitely a field I could work in. I don’t know if I’d ever be a Politician, I don’t think I have the temperament for that, but I did like the campaigning and coordinating and stuff like that.” 


Overall, Kinnear has learned a lot from his experience while campaigning, including the importance of communication. 


“I think communication is a big one. It’s very awkward knocking on someone’s door that you don’t know and having to open it and having to start a conversation, so you’re learning a lot of communication skills. I was able to learn a lot about campaigns in general and how those are run. Communication was probably the number one thing, though.”  


Through his participation in campaigning, Kinnear is learning more about a topic he’s passionate about while also giving back and getting involved with the community and its members.