Are WE the story?
Asking questions, and answering questions.
Our Mamaroneck High School students came to work the New Hampshire Primary, excited to participate in a national election in a year when so much is uncertain and seemingly up-for-grabs. They were prepared to canvass, to phone-bank, and were hoping in return for a chance to ask their questions of the candidates, to push the national conversation towards addressing the issues that matter to them. And for the most part, all these things came to pass on our four-day field trip to the Granite State.
The slower realization for the students, however, was that they WERE the story, even up here in the rugged environs of NH where they felt somewhat out of place. Not only did news outlets tap them again and again at rallies and political events for comments and interviews, but the panels of political analysts and journalists we encountered were eager to address them. Chuck Todd of Meet the Press expressed his fear that government gridlock was causing our nation’s best and brightest to dismiss public service and pleaded with our students to stay involved. Michael Barbaro of the New York Times reassured our students that the mode of the journalism may be evolving–but that in terms of serving the role of fostering our national debate–it was as relevant as ever.
Although as teachers we are spoiled to have regular contact with “the future of America,” professionals in other spheres of American life get infrequent opportunity to entreat the youth to help us out of the mess we feel mired in: to preserve the Fourth Estate, to fix the system, to solve climate change, to serve America. Watching these repeated pleas, one could imagine the burdens piling up on the shoulders of these soon-to-be college students. But for the adults, the presence of so many teenagers represented a bright spot. Their avid participation, informed questions, and tireless efforts were not only a great photo-op for candidates trying to capitalize on the youth vote, but an indication that America’s young people may have the answers we need.