Senator Bernie Sanders’ Visit Sparks Excitement Among Students and Faculty

Sanders tours the lower/middle school. Photo by Nick von Hindenburg.

Senator Bernie Sanders visited the GDS lower/middle school on Jan. 5. During his 90-minute tour, which was led by Associate Head of School Meg Goldner Rabinowitz, he went to several classrooms and talked to students and teachers. Sanders was accompanied by his bodyguard and a member of his staff.

Rabinowitz explained that the purpose of Sanders’ visit was to learn about the culture at GDS by observing student life and speaking to teachers and students.

Sanders, who was recently appointed chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said that he has been visiting “some of the best schools in America” to “see what we can learn from them.”

Sanders has served on the HELP Committee since 2007 and replaced Senator Patty Murray as chairman. The Committee aims to improve education and better prepare students for their careers.

Sanders’ Senior Policy Advisor on Education and Children, Nikhil Goyal, emailed Rabinowitz and Head of School Russell Shaw on Jan. 3 asking if Sanders could come to the school. According to Rabinowitz, Goyal wrote that Sanders “enjoys visiting schools, afterschool programs, [and] child care centers to get out of Congress and learn from and speak with Americans. These visits are not press opportunities.” Goyal added that the visit would be “very low-key.”

According to Rabinowitz, the school’s leadership team had a meeting on Jan. 4 about the visit. During the conversation, administrators decided to host Sanders because of his involvement with education policy. 

Sanders was unable to visit the high school building, as students were participating in workshops for the annual Mental Health Teach-In Day. Sanders originally planned to visit both the lower/middle and high school on Jan. 4, but the trip was postponed due to a conflict in his schedule. 

Sanders meets with faculty. Photo by Nick von Hindenburg.

In an interview with the Bit, Sanders said that everyone in the GDS community was “very hospitable, and I enjoyed the visit very much.”

History teacher Toussaint Lacoste had the opportunity to talk with Sanders outside the lower/middle school building. He expressed gratitude and thanked Sanders for his work in government.

Lacoste added that because GDS strives to develop “social justice agents,” it was beneficial for the students to see what level they “can ascend to.”

Seventh grader Caleb Broomfield met Sanders, who stopped by during his track practice. According to Broomfield, Sanders asked the students about the different events they ran. “A lot of us were really excited. Even afterwards, those who got their hands shaked were bragging about it, talking about how we’ll never wash our hands again,” Broomfield said. 

Sanders shakes hands with students during their track practice. Photo by Nick von Hindenburg.

Seventh grader Ben Samuel said that he heard several people talking about their experiences with Sanders and saw them posting pictures of him on their social media accounts.

Eighth-grader Leela Rustgi, another member of the middle school track team, said that she did not think that visiting track practice was a planned part of Sanders’ tour, but “it was nice that he came over and decided to talk to us.”

Junior Claire Simon saw Sanders as he was walking out of the lower/middle school building. “He was one of the top political figures I could have wished” to see, she said, “so it was a super cool experience.”

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