Congressman Sean Casten’s visit is a dream come true for Pirates in Politics


Matt Stepp

US Representative Sean Casten speaks to PHS students about a variety of current issues. The Pirates & Politics club invited Casten to visit on Sept 7, 2021.

Steven Keferlis, Features Editor

On Sept 7, 2021, Congressman Sean Casten visited Pirates in Politics at Palatine Highschool, and answered a variety of questions students had prepared for him. 

Congressman Sean Casten represents the 6th district of Illinois, which Palatine falls under, and thus represents Palatine’s interests in Washington, D.C. He spoke on issues of climate change, college debt, and others. 

“I was just on the phone last week with Chairman Powell about setting up a framework so that our federal regulars will actually look at how our climate changes historically, especially the financial system.” Casten said on the topic of how he’ll improve the issue of climate change, “Then we’d put barriers and protection up so capital flows in the right places.”

A topic that hit especially close to home for students was when Sean Casten was asked about student debt and how it’d be handled. 

“If we were to go and pass a bill that says I want to eliminate student debt, we would as congress have to figure out how to pay for that.” Casten said, “If on the other hand, the federal reserve knows the big checklist ahead of us, they’ll ask “where are we going to hold it on our book to the trillion dollars?” Then it wouldn’t, quote on quote, cost us anything, we’d just need more consumption.”

Pirates in Politics, the club that got to see him, is an activity dedicated to getting PHS students involved in politics, both in school and within the community.

“Pirates in politics is really about what our members want it to be about.” Leslie Shock, a sponsor for the club, said, “We’ve had watch parties, debates, and registered a ton of seniors to vote.”

Being the first ever Congressman that Pirates in Politics has ever spoken to, Ms. Shock and fellow sponsor Ms. Hamman were both ecstatic to have him over for questions. 

“I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to let our students see that our government is accessible and they do work for the people,” Schock said.

“He [Sean Casten] was especially neat because he’s not really a politician by training.” Hamman said, “And I think it showed because he was so straightforward and forthcoming.”

Although Sean Casten only had one period to answer a classroom full of student questions, students were satisfied with the answers he was able to give. 

“He was very interesting and very thorough. It was easy to tell he was passionate about it.” Pirates in Politics member Nicole Lizak said, “Every question that got asked, he got every bullet point.” 

Speaking of the students, the classroom was full of students eager to hear from Sean Casten. 

“We definitely wanted to have a pretty full space for him to speak to.” Schock said.

Not many people are able to meet such an important government figure in as intimate an environment as a classroom, but these students did, and got a glimpse into our government as a result. 

“A lot of times, we look at our elected officials as if they’re up on pedestals.” Schock said, “And when one of them will take time to come and speak to a group of high school students who are engaged, it makes them realize that they do have a voice.”