16 year old Matthew Johnson a sophomore at Hackett High School has started a Teenage Republican’s group to help inform students about the political process and also to assist republican candidates running for office.
"We are going to be the next generation," said Johnson. "We are going to be the ones dealing with everything so it is important to understand how everything works."
Johnson stated that he was invited to help out with a Ted Cruz event that took place in Van Buren in October. And at that time he believed that it would just be a nice thing to put on his college application but it became apparent the more he got involved that he was no longer just working to boost his chances at getting into a good college but that he genuinely enjoyed listening to the speakers and helping with their campaigns.
"After the event, I met with a man named Mark Shaffer, who is the Crawford County Republican Chairman," said Johnson. "He asked if I would like to start a TARS Club at my school. I said I was absolutely willing to do so."
Johnson received some resistance when he tried to start the club initially. But with the help of some state representatives, who sent in letters praising Johnson and his conduct the club was given the go ahead to start holding meetings. "I think they realized that we were being noticed and that we were not going to give up," said Johnson.
More than just working on campaigns, Johnson also serves the Hackett School District’s School Board. One sophomore, one junior and one senior is appointed to the Hackett Education Foundation and each student represents their grade and makes suggestions to the board.
Johnson admits to having some political aspirations and states that he is interested in the school’s WATC program that allows students to start earning their college education while still in high school.
"I have been thinking about getting a criminal justice degree and then going to law school for a political science degree," said Johnson. "I want to go into something political but I am just now getting into politics so I am not quite sure what I am going to do yet."
Johnson was recently elected as Arkansas District 1, FBLA Secretary and hopes to be a state officer in the near future.
Johnson stated that the club will be hosting Tomi Lahren soon. Lahren is a television and online video host and conservative political commentator that hosts her own T.V. show. Johnson and his friends contacted her and asked if she would come to Arkansas. Lahren normally charges $10-15,000 for an event but she loved Johnson’s story so much that she volunteer to appear for free when she has a free spot on her schedule, most likely in May.
"I have learned that if I reach for the stars and try to complete my goal, eventually, my dreams will come true," said Johnson. "I have completely fallen in love with the political realm."