Martinez finds purpose in fostering civic engagement


Kim Hokansan

Senior Michael Martinez stands with Rep. Joe Kennedy III at a March for Our Lives anti-gun violence event he helped lead.

Adi Saligrama, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Over the past few years, senior Michael Martinez has taken part in a significant amount of activism work relating to topics such as affordable housing, gun control, climate change, and community inclusivity. Martinez believes his purpose is to encourage civic engagement and involve people of all backgrounds in the community.

“Civic engagement [is] not only getting people to vote but to collaborate with each other and have conversations, [and] I think that’s very important,” Martinez said.

Martinez has been involved with several activist projects over the past few years in many different areas.

“In junior year, I was heavily involved with the gun violence prevention movement. This year I’m more focused on civic engagement in general and how we can get more young people involved in being a voice not just for themselves but for the people around them,” Martinez said.

Additionally, in 2018, history teacher Kimberly Young partnered with Martinez to educate the Weston community on climate change.

“Most directly, I’ve worked with Michael as a result of the experience he did last summer where he was in Greenland on the ice sheets learning about climate change,” Young said. “We did some presentations to the Contemporary World Issues class about arctic science and the impact of climate change on the Arctic.”

According to Weston METCO director La Toya Rivers, Martinez has made a notable impression on his fellow METCO students at WHS.

“As far as the METCO community goes, [Martinez’s] impact has been huge because he very much embodies the idea of belonging to two communities, which is very difficult and can seem overwhelming to kids,” Rivers said. “I think he’s created a nice balance with it so that he is respected here at Weston by his peers, [who know] that he’s an advocate and is definitely going to communicate that to anyone.”

Martinez said that he chose to focus on civic engagement due to his belief in the necessity of reforming today’s America.

“I think about this country now and its toxicity with politics. Our moral fabric is somewhat broken [and] it’s something that we still have to work on,” Martinez said. “To recognize our nation’s failures, unkept promises, and shortcomings is patriotic. To work to repair those issues is a powerful act of moral citizenship.”

Senior Echezona Onwuama, who has been a close friend of Martinez since childhood, said that he is happy to see Martinez gain more recognition as a civic leader.

“I think I’ve watched Michael turn from a Boston kid attending Weston Public Schools, just trying to find his way, to now being known as a selfless leader, an unsung hero. I think many of his classmates are starting to recognize that. I just wish that they caught on earlier,” Onwuama said.

Onwuama also remarked on Martinez’s virtue of humility and on how he serves as an inspiration to others.

“Michael is someone who doesn’t seek the spotlight and does the work of being an example of what he sees society becoming in the long run. As his friend, I’m proud of him and I only want to encourage him to keep doing it, because it’s inspiring me,” Onwuama said.

Rivers added that Martinez’s focus on staying true to himself by conducting work that appeals to him will serve him well in the future.

“I’m most proud of Michael for remaining true to himself. Even when things were difficult, he didn’t sway from that,” Rivers said. “I think that will carry him well because he definitely is doing things that he thinks will appeal to him rather than impress someone else.”