Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016 | 2 a.m.
About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 60th annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 29. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. This essay addresses the issues covered by the group School Days.
Nov. 29, 2016, is a date I’ll never forget. It was the day of my first year at the Sun Youth Forum, and I was blown out of the water.
I was surrounded by like-minded students who took a stance in their community and used their voice for the better. Everyone in our room had something to say; some butted heads, but for the most part we all came to a civil conclusion. I’ve never seen so much respect from an audience as I did on this day. We all came together and discussed some topics such as:
Should college be free?
Should high schools focus more on teaching about everyday “adult” concerns?
Should we do away with gender labels at schools?
On the first of those topics, although the thought of free college is nice, it’s unrealistic. Higher education has become a necessity more than a luxury. College has never been more expensive, and even if we think we’re getting “free” college, it’s not necessarily free. We would ultimately be stuck paying more taxes. We discussed that if the government can spend “x” amount of dollars building a new football stadium, then why can’t that money go into funding for schools and helping low-income families get the education they so rightfully deserve? As I said before, college cannot be free, but we can substantially lower the cost of public colleges/universities. It was discussed that if we did cut down the tuition for higher education, some people may abuse the system, but regulations would still apply in order to get into college.
Regarding preparation to handle “adult” concerns, I couldn’t tell you how many times I have asked myself, “When am I ever going to use this math formula in everyday life?” I’m not completely saying that math isn’t important, but there are other skill sets that can be applied to life after high school. Some students said they had helpful programs and resources at their school, including a person designated to specifically help students find out about college applications, how to prepare and submit them, and also where and when to apply for scholarships. This alleviates stress for students and truly helps them in the long run. We also discussed how we could use home economics again and learn about sewing and cooking a meal for yourself, or even classes that offer help in how to prepare taxes and pay off bills.
The most controversial topic was the thought of doing away with gender labels in a school environment. Some students respectively disagreed with one another, but everyone brought up valid reasoning. The general consensus was that gender labels were inevitable and that society couldn’t really “do away” with them. Also, it’s not the gender label we should specifically get rid of; it’s the oppression behind it. We are the future, and we’re more accepting than ever. Gender can stay, but the hate and negativity need to go.
I came into the forum not knowing what to expect, nor what to necessarily do, and I couldn’t be happier how things worked out. The compassion each student exhibited is uncanny, and I know that the future of America lies in good hands. Every student involved is doing some amazing things at their school and bettering not only their educational environment, but the community as a whole. This forum has been nothing but beneficial and allows us, the upcoming generation, to get together and have a voice. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity.
Megan Gilbert is a senior at Silverado High School.