Chicago high school students traveling to Des Moines to join campaign trail ahead of Iowa caucuses

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the Iowa caucuses near, some Chicago students are getting valuable experience on the campaign trail this weekend.

Students at Gwendolyn Brooks High School in Roseland are joining phone banks and campaigning door to door this weekend. They'll spend the weekend in Des Moines as part of a group chosen by the Mikva Challenge.

The Mikva Challenge runs programs in Chicago, California and Washington, D.C. It aims to encourage youth to be empowered, informed and active citizens in their communities.

"It's kind of crazy how we're learning about political ideologies right now in AP Gov," said sophomore Aja Halbert. "So I was like, why not jump on the opportunity and be ahead of the class?"

The students will join about 100 other Chicago-area students from the Mikva program for the bus ride to Iowa early Friday.

With the caucuses just a couple of weeks away, candidates are criss-crossing the state, desperately trying to find an edge before the first big test for presidential candidates.

"We have a lot of candidates who are really well-qualified," said Sam Roth, a University of Chicago student. "It's a good opportunity to vet all of them."

Roth was part of the Mikva group in high school.

Now as the president of the University of Chicago Young Democrats, he is traveling to Iowa with a group of about 50 students.

It's the kind of experience you can't get in a classroom.

Teacher Liz Robbins said the program gives students an opportunity to "see the worth of what they're learning in school" and "apply it in the real world."

The students will gather together on the final day in Iowa to talk about their continuing political involvement.

When they return to Chicago, many are already planning to get involved in campaigns in advance of the Illinois primary in March.
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