It’s not every day that a high schooler gets invited to the state capital, but Mario Falit-Baiamonte is not your everyday high schooler. On April 19th, the 16-year-old watched Gov. Jay Inslee sign Senate Bill 5612, which will encourage Holocaust education in public schools across the state. The teen spent months supporting the bill and even testified in front of the legislature. Now, his hard work is paying off. “[It] just feels so good when these bills get passed,” he says. “What really keeps me going and doing all of this work is when I can see that what I’ve done has some kind of effect. That just feels really good.”
Ever since he took an eye-opening middle school course on genocide at Licton Springs K-8 School, Falit-Baiamonte has turned his passion for Holocaust education into action. For the past four years, he’s been on the Holocaust Center for Humanity’s student leadership board serving as an ambassador and spreading the word about Holocaust remembrance. He says that with the rise of hate speech and the dwindling number of survivors, we need to educate about the Holocaust more than ever.
Falit-Baiamonte’s contagious excitement for social justice also stretches into his role in student government at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School. Last year, he helped organize his school’s walkout to prevent gun violence and spoke at the rally afterward at the University of Washington. This spring, he also facilitated a school-wide walkout about climate change.
Falit-Baiamonte already has years of public service under his belt, but his journey is just getting started. Earlier this year, the teen announced his plan to run for mayor in 2021. While he’s not expecting to win, the potential candidate is excited to bring a youthful voice to the ballot. “I think that when young people come to the table and talk about issues they care about, that can change the narrative for the better,” he says. “And that’s what I would be trying to accomplish by running for mayor.”