Student Voices: My class talked with a Trump supporter. Here’s what I learned.

Olivia Capestany, now a senior at Seattle’s Roosevelt High, writes about the need for more political tolerance at her high school.

A week after the election, when a man wearing a Make America Great Again hat walked into our journalism class, we all thought it was a joke. It’s rare to see anyone who is openly Republican at Roosevelt High School in Northeast Seattle.

With Hillary Clinton winning more than three times the votes as Donald Trump in King County, it’s no surprise that the election results devastated many Roosevelt students. Students showed up to school in black clothing, saying they were mourning the loss of intelligence in this country. Some were in tears, hugging and holding each other in the hallways. My school had a total of three walkouts with a large portion of the school participating, myself included.

So when our journalism teacher invited Forest Machala — a 22-year-old Trump supporter and former Roosevelt student — to visit our class, we were surprised, to say the least.

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“Everyone was in that funk, and in this shock [from the election] … I thought that it would be a good opportunity for them to talk … with someone who honestly and openly walked into Roosevelt with a red hat on,” said Christine Roux, my journalism teacher.

Machala was equally excited for the opportunity. One of the reasons he was at Roosevelt that day was to see how we were handling the election.

Before the discussion began, Ms. Roux told us that we could leave if we weren’t comfortable, and about half the class left to work on other assignments. I was devastated from the election because I supported Clinton, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle talking with a Trump supporter. But my curiosity outweighed my fears and I decided to stay — until I heard Machala say that his faith in Trump didn’t falter after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, which shows Trump making misogynist comments about women.

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