by Hena Hussain ’20
As students in high school, we have begun to develop thoughts and distinct views on a variety of political and social issues. Whether our debates concern gun control or standardized testing, the ability to voice our opinions is vital to the process of preparing us for the real world.
However, when students are prevented from voicing their opinions on the grounds of being too divisive or partisan, they become discouraged from continuing to participate in the political process, and develop a sentiment of disillusionment that creates the mentality that the world is run wholly by adults, with no room for the voices of their generation.
Recently, valedictorian Christian Bales was barred from giving his valedictorian speech in Covington, Kentucky because it was seemingly inappropriate due to its “aggressive” tone. Instead of staying silent, Bales chose to speak, using a megaphone to address a group of students after the graduation ceremony. He made several important points, emphasizing the importance of becoming involved no matter one’s political views, and that all advocacy conducted by younger people should be met with encouragement.
Some would disagree with this assessment, arguing that students aren’t fully capable of making coherent decisions when it comes to activism or politics. What critics of student advocacy don’t understand is that many who do choose to speak up are only a few years from voting. Additionally, much of what is learned in school can be used to make an informed decision on a number of issues. Since many of the topics discussed throughout the country impact young people directly, they should be able to have a say in the points argued and the solutions offered. Most students are hardworking, competent individuals who shouldn’t be discouraged from participating solely on the basis of age, and should be given due credit for choosing to engage in debates.
Bales’ action presents an important lesson to those of us in the Sherwood community: engaging in controversy is important. We may only be students, but our ideas are important and we should be able to help solve the issues of our time. Although we may feel that we don’t have enough time, or shy away in order to not upset the administration or students on the other side of the debate, it is important to realize that if we don’t stand up for what we believe in, we run the risk of never being able to shape the world for our generation and those to come.