In the latest Around Town column, news about a Paly student whose editorial on universal vote-by-mail was recently published by The New York Times, a local nonprofit debuting a new name and a student group's lessons on entrepreneurship.
POWER OF THE POLL ... The coronavirus pandemic is expected to significantly shakeup a highly anticipated event less than four months away: Election Day. As the clock ticks, government leaders are figuring out how to safely operate a general election in the midst of a health crisis. For Palo Alto High School student Tara Kapoor, the answer lies in universal vote-by-mail. She laid out her arguments in "Freedom Isn't Free: The Price to Preserve Democracy," her entry in The New York Times' seventh annual Student Editorial Contest. "This is, indeed, a realistic goal — five states have successfully and repeatedly set an example with almost all ballots cast by mail for years," the 15-year-old student argued. "It's high time we guaranteed the option for all Americans." She was recognized as a runner-up on June 17, when the publication released its list of winners. Kapoor contrasted the mishaps observed during Wisconsin's primary with the success during Alaska's primary, which canceled in-person voting and sent out ballots to eligible voters. The turnout doubled compared to the state's 2016 primary. (Both primaries were held in April.) Kapoor acknowledged an estimated $2 billion would be spent to make universal vote-by-mail a reality, but cited a March 21 opinion in the Times that stated the amount is "a drop in the $1-trilllion-plus stimulus bucket ... and it should be an essential part of any coronavirus response package." The contest, which limited each piece to 450 words, received a total of 7,318 entries reviewed by 30 judges. Read Kapoor's full editorial at nyti.ms/2N8r8vW.
COMING TOGETHER ... Gatepath and Abilities United, two Peninsula nonprofits that merged nearly a year ago to continue their mission of serving people with disabilities, debuted a new name on June 20. The organization will now be known as AbilityPath, which "conveys a path to an inclusive world where people of all abilities are fully accepted," according to a press release. The new name was announced during a virtual event on YouTube on the day when the organization was formed 100 years earlier. The organization also has debuted a new tagline, "Inspiring Inclusion," which it paired with the new name to "express our mission and the focus of all of our services," CEO Bryan Neider said during the livestream. Viewers of the virtual event were receptive to the rebranding, with some commenting it as "wonderful," "great" and "beautiful." During a Q&A period at the event, Neider noted that the new name and tagline were a result of two years of research. A video of the announcement can be found on YouTube.
SPREADING KNOWLEDGE ... From imagining their dream companies to breaking down how to make a cold call, Palo Alto youth recently learned about the ABCs of entrepreneurship through the Paly Robotics Team. The club's business team gave 10 free lessons that wrapped up late last week for students from elementary to high school. "When the quarantine started, I knew I wanted to do something to help my community ... during this time of need, so I established Zoom workshops at Paly Robotics," Paly freshman Caroline Zhang, one of the team's members, told the Weekly in an email. "As a student, I oftentimes felt bored during the quarantine and wanted to learn something new." She added that the workshops allowed parents to relax while their children listened to the lessons. The first workshop challenged students to guess the company behind a series of mission statements that included Google, Nike and Hydro Flask. More advanced material was found in the fifth workshop, where the robotics club's business team covered the do's and don'ts of giving a pitch. In a workshop survey, 95.2% of participants reported they learned something new and would recommend the series to a peer. The club's business team also plans to roll out a curriculum on art and software next month. To view the entrepreneurship videos, visit the group's YouTube channel.