Clubs Goin’ Up at West: PACE Club


By Fillip Komornik

During an average Political Affairs and Current Events Club (PACE) meeting, anywhere from 10 to 20 students are present, and, many times, a guest speaker may be present to explain and educate the students about controversial subjects. Some students are very active and vocal in the political conversations, while others enjoy listening and incorporating new ideas into their own political ideology.

Discussions can range from several global topics, to a set of particular themes relating to current events. Many times, the members of the club are seated in a circle to interact with others in a more efficient and friendly way. Finally, the club sponsor, English teacher Michael Conroy, is seated in the back of the room moderating the club conversation.

Many members of the club have a strong interest in politics. For some students, politics is about understanding the way that laws and society affect their lives. This understanding can help members make an impact on the world around them.

“My favorite thing about living in this country is our advanced system of democracy. It involves so many elections, which I personally find the most exciting part about politics. We have elections on a national scale at least every two years, and with local elections, they are even more frequent. It’s fun to participate in the election process, because it is so empowering- it is up to the people to decide who gets elected,” senior and club founder Alan Kotlyar said.

PACE has been a place where students can develop their political ideology, and interact with other students who don’t necessarily hold the same views as they do. These types of conversations help illuminate problems and solutions in the world.

“Politics and current events provide an inexhaustible supply of topics to debate. As a teacher, I consider any medium that promotes debate to be a resource to open minds, if participants in that debate do not already have calcified positions from which they will not move. Much can be learned from such give and take,” Conroy said.

Moreover, participation in the club has helped students in and out of school. Some students said that membership in PACE has helped improve their political experience, and it has helped them in classes at Niles West.

“It has helped me to put myself outside of my comfort zone and be more open minded with regards to listening to and understanding other people. I’m so committed to PACE, that there have been times when I have prioritized PACE over my school work, which actually hurt me academically. But I can’t blame anyone for that but myself. I think PACE has helped me with AP Government and Politics because the conversations in that class often mirror discussions in PACE Club,” Kotlyar said.

In addition, the club provides a place for students interested in the global political climate to speak their minds and learn new ideas. These kinds of interactions can help members develop their ideas based on facts and reason, rather than opinions.

“As a rule, high school students have not as yet etched their political positions in stone. Moreover, adolescence is a time in which young people begin to question the positions of the world of adults on a variety of issues. PACE provides an environment in which students can begin to form opinions independent of this espoused by their elders. Therefore, organizations such as PACE provide a venue for teenagers to test the validity of previously held opinions and to form new points of view and/or to reinforce previously held ideological views with tangible evidence, not just unsubstantiated opinion,” Conroy said.

Finally, the club provides a space for students to expand their knowledge of the world and society. Many students said they were glad that they could learn about current events in their free time.

“I think it’s great that PACE is a place to hold open discussions about current events without being limited by a 42-minute class period,” senior Isaac Moldofsky said.

For students who enjoy participating in political discussions, discussing current events, and debating controversial topics, the Political Affairs and Current Events Club is the place to be. It is located in room 2015 meets Tuesdays after school at 3:45 p.m.