Chloe Mattes, a senior at William Horlick High School in Racine was recently named the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year. The award is given to “a young person—who—through his or her creativity, leadership, and dedication, has positively affected policy or change in his or her school or community in a way that aligns with PTA’s mission and goals.” (National PTA, 2019).
Mattes received the award during the 2019 National PTA Legislative Conference on March 13 in Arlington, Virginia.
She was chosen among applicants from all over the country based on her advocacy work, which is focused on college and career readiness. Through her work, she provides a voice for herself and other students about the information they need to prepare for the important decisions they must make in high school and beyond.
“Our mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children,” Mattes said. “These decisions affect us and we need to be involved in them and this position gives me that voice to tell some of the adults about issues from the students’ perspective.”
At the local level, Mattes takes the role of youth advocate seriously. She is the Wisconsin PTA Youth Outreach Chair and works to make sure that student voices continue to be an integral part of Horlick High School’s PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association). She believes that “it’s our job and our time to stand up for ourselves and help guide these leaders by informing them about how the issues affect us.” Working alongside parents and teachers provides a space for students to assert their ideas and beliefs.
Participating in the Legislative Conference provided another opportunity for young people to be taken seriously. Mattes relished the time she had to talk with state legislators, specifically about the Rebuild America’s Schools Act. “I loved seeing the look on their face when I would speak to them. This Act is to make sure schools are included in the infrastructure bill as well,” she said.
Mattes is thankful for what she describes as a “powerful experience” and remains grateful for the opportunity. “Students think they have no voice, but on that day I felt so confident and spoke from my heart because I was the youngest in the room.”
In the near future, she plans to add to the Wisconsin PTA Youth Network YouTube channel with new videos to inspire students to advocate for their schools and communities.
Mattes plans to attend the University of Wisconsin–Parkside to major in communications with hopes of pursuing a job in radio broadcasting.
National PTA. 2019. “2019 Winners Announced.” Retrieved from https://www.pta.org/home/advocacy/legislative-conference/advocacy-awards