© 2024 WFAE

Mailing Address:
8801 J.M. Keynes Dr. Ste. 91
Charlotte NC 28262
Tax ID: 56-1803808
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Matthews teen can’t wait to engage in civic life

Seventh-grader Adhvik Pradeep (front left) joins the Civics 101 group in holding up completion certificates for a photo.
Ann Doss Helms
Seventh-grader Adhvik Pradeep (front left) joins the Civics 101 group in holding up completion certificates for a photo.

This article originally appeared in WFAE reporter Ann Doss Helms' weekly education newsletter. To get the latest school news in your inbox first, sign up for our email newsletters here.

I was feeling unsettled as I headed for last week’s Civics 101 media panel.

For more than 25 years, the League of Women Voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg has invited residents of the Charlotte region to learn more about local government, courts and news media. The course has always felt as wholesome as mom and apple pie … but these days polls show confidence in government, media and even democracy itself is ebbing.

Most local news outlets are struggling to find a sustainable business model. And keynote speaker Israel Balderas, an Elon University journalism professor and former TV journalist, started the session with a presentation on artificial intelligence that was equal parts fascinating and terrifying. His first question for the panel of local reporters was, “Do you think you’ll have a job in five years?”

But despite the turmoil and uncertainty I left uplifted. It’s always inspiring to meet people who will commit six evenings to deepening their knowledge of the local institutions we cover. But this round included the league’s first school-age participant.

Adhvik Pradeep is a 13-year-old seventh-grader at Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, a charter school for gifted students. He wants to become a lawyer and maybe run for office someday, so when he found Civics 101 online he signed up. “I thought that doing this program can maybe improve my civic engagement,” he said.

Mind you, this is a student who already volunteers as a juror at Teen Court and serves on the youth council for Envision Matthews, a group crafting a long-range plan for the town Adhvik lives in.

The league’s Jane Hoffman says Civics 101 participants have become more diverse since the league dropped the $60 fee in 2023. “It did huge things … in terms of age, in terms of socioeconomic, sexual orientation, ethnic background, the whole works,” she said.

There’s also a virtual option, which helps when a participant is too young to drive. But league organizers urged Adhvik and his parents to attend the final session in person so he could be recognized.

Adhvik told me he was fascinated by learning about how tax money is allocated and how the court system works. And while voting age remains five years away, he’s eager for more opportunities to get involved.

“I strongly believe that it’s better for us to be active since it’s a democracy,” he said. “Our input is very valuable in our government.”

Sign up for our Education Newsletter

Select Your Email Format

Education Education
Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.