CHARLOTTE, NC—Pulling into his senior parking spot, David Marsh knew that today could change his life. Posters and tape crowded his backseat. “Believe In South Mecklenberg High School” was his campaign’s motto, but David knew that he would really be asking voters for something more simple: Believe in me.
He grabbed the posters and his Jansport backpack, filled to its brim with copies of the campaign platform he had written last night with his friend Trey and the help of his parents.
He remembered Trey’s idea to focus on the fixing the Dance program and to give minority clubs their own spots on campus.
“Dude, dude, I just Googled some stuff and it came up,” Trey had told him. What a genius, Marsh thought. That would totally get all the weird, emo kids who don’t like to wear normal people clothes on his side.
Trey met him at the door of the school.
“Ready to kill it today Marshmallow?” he greeted him.
“You know it!” Marsh said, before whispering in a slightly lower voice, “Don’t call me that anymore man, people don’t want a President they can’t take seriously.”
The rest of their crew met them in the hall as they were coming in. Marsh distributed his platform among them.
“Bro, this looks legit as fuck,” Matt exhaled to the group. “How’d you do this?”
Marsh kind of blushed and looked away. He was glad he had spent the extra time last night with the header on Microsoft Word. He collected himself and spoke to the group.
“Focus y’all, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. Later today I’m going to give my speech over the school TV, I need everyone to get people hyped up for that—make sure they know what’s going on. I know some other people are giving speeches, like that random baseball player guy and the really Republican girl in debate club, but I think we’ve got it be-,” Marsh said before being cut off.
“Dude of course we got it, we’re the fucking crew,” Matt interjected.
They all laughed, Marsh was happy to have his close group of friends. It was almost like a fraternity. In the end, Marsh knew that he had the most respected and coolest guys on campus behind his back.
The first period bell rang.
“Oh fuck, Ms. Terrance is going to kill me, I got to run. Everyone pass out some platforms and spread the word,” Marsh called before darting down the locker-lined hall.
The rest of the day was a blur of shaking hands and compliments. People were excited. They noticed that he was taking himself seriously, tucking in his shirt and making sure to stop and have conversations with the “important” teachers.
He could not help thinking about his big brother, his inspiration. He hoped he’d be proud of him.
Before the big speech he stopped by Mr. Candler’s room to make sure that the college letter of recommendation he had asked for last week was still all good.
“David, come in, good to see you,” Mr. Chandler greeted him. “I see you’ve started off the campaign. I don’t teach AP Government for nothing: What are the big ideas?”
Marsh grinned and sat down across from him. It felt good to be respected by an adult.
“Lots of stuff Mr. Chandler. We are going to try to help minority students through a mentorship program and, like, just generally increase transparency and make things run better, you know?” Marsh said.
“Hmm, go on,” Chandler paused, as he often did in class when he thought there was still something to be said. Marsh felt stumped again, a total flashback to junior year.
“Just tons of stuff Mr. Chandler, like, it’s not all so easy to say. I think people just generally know that I’m a good guy—people like me and stuff—and I’ll bring, like, my charisma to it. And you know, with that attitude we can deal with stuff like sexual assault and the Board of Governors, because, I’ve been told I’m a pretty good leader. And I believe in this school, you know?”
Mr. Chandler leaned back in his chair.
“Sounds good,” he said, almost daydreaming.
He perked himself back up.
“I’m assuming you’re here about your letter of recommendation,” he continued. “Don’t worry, it’s on its way to UNC-Chapel Hill as we speak. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot there.”
They exchanged goodbyes and Marsh strode off to the Principal’s office to give his speech.
Still at his desk, Mr. Chandler leaned over and put his face in his hands. He sighed. Marsh’s words soon boomed through the TV speakers.
“Just remember, when they go to college, the bullshitters get shut down,” he muttered. “You just have to get them there Jim, you just have to get them to college.”