Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

Currently: 46° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Sun Youth Forum :

Students Tell It Like It Is

Opinions as diverse as the 700 delegates themselves were expressed yesterday at the 16th annual SUN Youth Forum at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Delegates discussed abortion, drugs, law and order, welfare reform and a host of related subjects.

From each of the seven groups, one spokesman was picked to represent a consensus of opinion for his group at the annual adult luncheon, Dec. 14 at noon at the Union Plaza Hotel.

Another seven speakers were also selected. They will present their summations of students’ views on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m.

Television and luncheon speakers selected by peers in their discussion group include Ted Bubon, John Burger, Dennis Cabbery, Jennifer Channos, all of Valley High School; Jay Gomm of Western High School; Tony Hall of Las Vegas High School; Mike Kelley of Valley, Sandy Murphy of Bishop Gorman High School; Mike Mushlin of Clark High School; Mike Rumbolz of Valley; Melanie Thompson of Rancho High School; Tessie Watters of Valley; Bob Young of Clark; and Rich Zwern of Valley.

Alternatives were selected to fill in for the spokesman in case they are unable to fill their commitments. Alternates are Greg Adamour of Clark; Pamela Armstrong of Rancho; Nathan Coe of Clark; Randy Crawford of Valley; Valerie Fine of Western; Greg George of Valley; Henry Heogland of Southern Nevada Vocational-Technical Center; David Unger of Clark; Mike Vlaovich of Gorman; and Don Winton of Rancho.

Reporters were selected in each group as the discussions began. They included Judy Bishop of Clark; Terrie Broadway of Rancho; Jennifer Chanos of Valley; Edna Dizon of Rancho; Geri Gonzales of Western; Nancy Lynn of Clark; Kathy Newbry of Valley; Fred Sigman of Gorman; Melanie Thompson of Rancho; and Cathy Young of Las Vegas High School.

Students from 13 local high schools participated in the event, which has become the highlight of the senior year in high school.

The 700 students were hosted to a spaghetti dinner in the Convention Center’s exhibition hall. Following the concluding discussion, they were entertained by well-known guitarist B.B. King.

The SUN Youth Forum allows students to express their views - their way - without restrictions from parents, teachers or other adults.

One moderator was assigned to each group. There was Mrs. Ed (Peggy) Phillips, director of employee insurance at the Frontier Hotel; William Briaire, former county commissioner; SUN columnist Joe Delaney; SUN Associate Editor Judy Carlos; James Bilbray Jr., University of Nevada Regent; Municipal Judge Robert (Moon) Mullen; local artist and writer Bill Willard; Mrs George (Marjory) Phillips, active in youth-oriented groups; Mrs. Andrew (Mabel) Mitchell, chairman of the Engineering department at Boulder City High School; Assemblyman Zel Lowman; Assemblyman Richard Bryan; Ray Germain, director of special projects at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) John Wawerna, director of the Young Mens Christian Association; and Dr. Irving Katz, professor of psychology at UNLV.

Although each discussion focused on one main theme, such as politics, national or international affairs and education, the students were free to steer the discussion into the area and direction they wanted.

Some of the most spirited discussions involved the legalization of marijuana, legalized abortion, women’s liberation and pollution.

Several young men and women said they felt abortion was murder. Others in the group disagreed. “We’re not talking about killing anyone,” said one student. “Making love is a natural thing and it’s not surprising that some will do it and some will get pregnant.”

Tony Hall of Las Vegas High School said, “I don’t know where I stand. When you look at a small newborn baby, you can see it’s struggling to live.” “On the other hand, I would rather be dead than know I wasn’t wanted.”

Leslie Waite of Moapa Valley High School was more definite. “When a relationship goes serious that children maybe involved,” she said, “then you’d better be prepared to live with the consequences.”

In the final count, Katz’ discussion class voted overwhelmingly to legalize abortion.

Bryan’s group selected presidential candidates, first in the primary and then in the general election. The vote narrowed to Richard Nixon, Edward Kennedy and George Wallace.

Final note was roundly in Kennedy’s favor, with 15 of the 22 votes cast for the Massachusetts senator. Nixon pulled six votes. Wallace, one.