Students unite to find common ground concerning violence, political division

HOUSTON – Growing concerns over deadly violence targeting students and political division gripping the nation were big topics at a convention held at Bellaire High School Sunday.

“We decided we need to take action, and that’s what we’re all doing here today,” student Adam Hoffman said.

People with different beliefs and opinions in politics gathered with the same goal.

“We wanted to put together, a convention to kind of unite students and find common grounds along party lines,” said Alex Kontoyiannis, president of Texas High School Democrats.

Students like Kontoyiannis and Hoffman, chair of High School Republicans of Texas, said they are hoping to cut through politics to make a difference.

“We’re here to combat political polarization and advocate for person before politics, beliefs and promote dialogue," Hoffman said.

The Day of Unity, as it’s called, included political leaders: Democrats that included Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee and Joaquin Castro, and Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz.

“This is a polarized time, unfortunately," Cruz said. "We’re a divided country. It’s impressive here to see high school students taking the lead here with a civil and respectful conversation.”

Sunday’s Day of Unity follows Saturday’s March for our Lives.

Thousands turned out in Houston at City Hall, and nationwide, the groundswell poured onto streets from coast to coast.

“The polarization will end by students like the ones who are here today," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. "They will change things. They are the change agents.”

Students said it’s important to create space for all -- especially those who may not be as engaged.

“Get them involved and to see why it matters for them to care and have a say in the political workings that are going on right now,” Kontoyiannis said.

“We are the grassroots," Hoffman said. "We are what is going to change this country. We are the change.”

About the Authors:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.