By Olivia Kavadias
As a high school student, it is hard to feel like you can really make a difference or even a ripple in the water of the big world of government and politics, especially when many adults do not believe you are knowledgeable or “grown up” enough. But having the responsibility, maturity, and outlook to deal with politics does not come with age. An unnamed GHS student believes high schoolers are old enough to be involved with government, saying “at this point we [high school students] are educated on the topics and issues affecting us that high schoolers, or at least tenth graders, should be able to give their opinions.” Even though the voting age will not be changed anytime soon, there are lots of things students can do in politics and government, including getting involved in their community, and knowing what’s going on in politics today.
As children, we believe almost everything our parents say. If they do not like something, we don’t either, and if they do, we’re all for it. But it is time to adopt personal opinions and make your own decisions on what you think is right, wrong, and everything inbetween. Know what’s going on in the world and observe how it affects America and other countries socially and economically, as well as different demographic groups, so you can be aware and prepared. It’s as easy as watching the news or reading the paper everyday.
Even though most high school students are not old enough to vote yet, there are endless ways to get involved in politics in your community. It is great to live close to Washington D.C., where lots of events occur and government buildings are. Things like surveys, attending speeches, reading the news, and even taking a tour through the National Mall are good things to do. All of the buildings and historic landmarks in D.C. may make someone want to learn more about them.
Discussing politics are a great way to see other sides of any story, and broaden your education of them. It can also give you a better understanding of something like a policy or issue. By talking with others, you are keeping an open mind, something always good to have especially in a rapidly changing America. Discussing, however, is not an argument, and politics are something rather controversial, so when discussing them you should respect everyone’s opinion.
Relate and Connect
Once you’ve learned about politics and problems in America, relate them to your family and community, and connect how different situations will be affected by new bills or policies. This lets you see the whole picture, giving you a better lens to look through for understanding and widen your view. Also, relating things that occur in government to yourself or community will give you a personal connection, raising political efficacy, the belief that what you do has an effect on something.
As high school students and American citizens, it is our right to be involved in politics and government, afterall we are given the right to vote and speak out, as well as be informed about our country, and it seems many agree. Sophomore Rachel Dematatis thinks it is immensely important to be involved in government, and doing things like “talking to… the principal and other leaders in [your] community, or joining student government at school,” are things every student can do to participate in politics.