Sophomores bring Turning Point USA to the high school

Olivia Sedarski, staff writer

In the fall of 2020, a group of students established a high school-affiliated chapter of the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA (TPUSA) at Edina High School. With the return to in-person school, the club, dubbed Turning Point Edina, became advised by Social Studies teacher Erik Anderson and promoted themselves at the Activities Fair with a table outfitted with attention-grabbing stickers featuring messages like “Big Gov Sus,” a reference to the popular app Among Us.

Sophomore Sofia DuVal, President and co-creator of Turning Point Edina, was first contacted by TPUSA about creating a branch at EHS when she demonstrated interest in one of the group’s conferences in Palm Springs, Florida. After hearing from the college-age field representative for Turning Point in Minnesota, DuVal decided to form the club with like-minded students. “It kind of started a domino effect,” DuVal said. “Once we started talking about it, more and more people started flooding in. Now we have a pretty decent group of kids who really want to be closely involved.”

The official mission of TPUSA is to “educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government” and the website calls its members “community organizers of the right.” The Edina branch of the organization is affiliated with both EHS and other TPUSA chapters; club members have interacted with students from other cities at a presidential debate watch and election night party. Most recently, the club set up a 9/11 Memorial outside Door 5 of the high school. They’re planning to begin weekly meetings once the Homecoming excitement dissipates and collaborate with other high school chapters for a TPUSA Veteran’s Day remembrance program. “We’re hoping to get permission to use a bigger setting at the high school and hopefully bring in some veterans and family members and get first-person accounts,” DuVal said.

Turning Point’s decentralized structure places an emphasis on appealing to students through peer leadership. “They really want students to be able to hold their own and know the information and get students involved because it’s not as much fun if you have a forty-year-old telling you what to do,” DuVal said.

Along with DuVal, sophomore Grace Welborn works on the club’s Executive Board as Vice President. An immediate topic for the Board is taking advantage of the demonstrated interest at the Activity Fair on Sept. 2. “We’re kind of in the transition of getting more people. Lots of people signed up at the Activities Fair, but we haven’t set up our first meeting yet,” Welborn said. “It was a little nerve-wracking because you never know who’s just kidding or who’s serious about it.”

The club is already looking beyond the short term, by seeking out interested seventh and eighth-grade Edina students to fill their roles after 2024. DuVal explained the club’s strategy: “We already have some names that have been given to us of kids three years younger. We’re hoping to invite them onto the Board once they’re in the high school to mentor them through it and then eventually pass on the torch.”