By Grant Strobl
In the midst of all the turmoil throughout the country, my friend and I had an urge to do something about it and create a conservative group at our high school.
We sifted through many Google search pages and brainstormed ideas. After much thought, we decided to start a conservative club and were determined to find a teacher to sponsor us. After getting much needed support from teachers and learning the ins-and-outs of other groups at my high school, we settled on starting a Young Americans for Freedom chapter, now a project of Young America’s Foundation.
Around May of 2011, I made an inquiry to then YAF Executive Director Danny Diaz about starting a YAF chapter. Honestly, I was a little hesitant at first, but after much thought and after consulting my teachers, I was determined to make this group a success. Danny followed up and we talked on the phone. He recommended attending the Foundation’s National High School Leadership Conference in Washington, DC.
My parents agreed to let me go; after all, we are conservatives, what trouble could we get into? I entered my essay and all the necessary information on YAF’s website then began the search for the mode of transportation to reach D.C. By the time we decided to purchase air fare, the cost had doubled overnight. So we decided to make the ten hour trip by car. My mom took a few days off work and reserved a hotel in D.C.
I highly encourage anyone to attend Young America’s Foundation’s conferences. They are truly inspirational and provide the needed confidence to stand up on campus. The conference provided me a great opportunity to meet fellow conservatives, many of whom I am still in contact with today. I met great conservative leaders such as Dr. Burt Folsom, Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, Jason Mattera, and Deroy Murdock—along with YAF’s great leaders, Ron Robinson, Patrick Coyle, Kate Obenshain, and Danny Diaz.
The National High School Leadership Conference included a great lecture series, a midnight tour of Washington D.C., a great opportunity to network, and most importantly, a picture with Miss America. What a deal!
Back at home, my good friend and I went to work to get a YAF chapter in place, along with organizing the 9/11: Never Forget Project. We received support from conservative teachers, and we confirmed our club advisor. (Trust me, there are conservative teachers out there who will support you, you just have to find them.) We met with the school principal many times throughout the summer to confirm the details of the 9/11: Never Forget Project and to make the club official. I followed all of the rules and regulations including reserving a meeting room, getting posters signed by an administrator, reserving a field with the athletic director, filing paperwork with the student activities director, creating a custodial account with the accountant, getting television announcements confirmed with T.V. productions, and much more. It is important to follow the rules; that way, the only criticism you receive will be due to opposing bias.
Our first project of the school year was the 9/11: Never Forget Project. It was very successful! Even the extensive planning was worth it. Approximately 25 students along with the freshman soccer team during their practice helped place 2,977 American flags, representing each victim of that tragedy. The students and faculty were very impressed and the local newspapers ran several stories. I felt honored to have been able to organize this memorial—it is truly humbling.
I also hung up large posters provided by YAF with images of terrorist acts with the simple statement, “Never Forget,” in the middle. The administration changed their mind about a week after their posting, claiming they were “violent” and “not appropriate for school.” I found that to be absolutely absurd. Later that day I heard a rumor that had been circulating amongst the teachers referring to YAF as ‘Fascist’. ‘Young Americans for FREEDOM’… fascist? Clearly the definition of fascism is eluding them. It is evident that our honorable remembrance of 9/11 has made a positive impact on the students, faculty, and the community. A few days after the memorial, a leader from a local conservative club saw my name in the paper and invited me and my like-minded friends to their meetings where I met the editorial cartoonist for the Detroit News, Henry Payne.
Our chapter also participated in “No More Che Day,” which is quite simple: display posters and flyers provided by YAF educating students of the truth about Che Guevara. I thought that this project was appropriate, because I see students wearing Che shirts and they often don’t know what he stood for. Interestingly, someone defaced one of our posters making comments that read “More Che Week,” “Young Americans for Propaganda,” “October 9, the day Che became a martyr for justice,” and “Democratic governments worldwide murdered 100,000,000 people.” These comments immediately demonstrated that the posters grabbed the attention of others as intended. After all, they posters were always meant to be educational about the evils of communism and Che Guevara.
Running a YAF chapter takes work, time, and dedication, all of which pay off with the satisfaction that you are standing up for your beliefs. When you take a stand and lead, people will follow and so will success. GPN YAF has 25 members in good standing and engages in projects every month both created by us and by YAF. This process has been awesome, and I look forward to what is next.
Grant Strobl is the chairman and co-founder of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at Grosse Pointe North High School in Michigan