Las Vegas Sun

July 28, 2014

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Sun Youth Forum :

Moderates Lead At Youth Forum

They came in droves. Some from the city others from the country. Many had long hair, many others sported hair well-trimmed.

They all had one thing in common. They were students in Southern Nevada high schools ready for the 17th annual SUN Youth Forum conducted Thursday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The forum, designed to give high school youths a chance to express personal views without regard to parents, teachers or other adult figures, attracted almost 700 students from the region, according to Ruthe Deskin, coordinator and director of the Forum.

Hosted each year by the las Vegas Sun, the Forum provides a clearing house for views ranging from conservative to moderate to liberal. Although students in this years Forum displayed much enthusiasm — if not more — when speaking out on issues. Several of the 14 group moderators said they felt students generally tended toward more conservative views than in years past.

“Although my group indicated a more conservative bent in many ways, I found them much more relaxed in their attitude toward drugs,” said moderator Richard Bryan, state senator-elect.

One moderator said his group had come to several general statements not unlike those of President Nixon. “And yet these students did not indicate any particular love for the president,” he continued.

Of all issues discussed, one of the most controversial and emotional battles was waged by two discussion groups studying “Teenage Dilemmas.” Included in the items of abortion reform. Although a majority of both groups voted in favor of reform, there was strong opposition by those against abortion.

“As far as many of us were concerned,” said one student from Virgin Valley High School, “abortion is murder. At the same time in some circumstances I suppose it might be alright. But only rarely.”

One item students found easiest to agree on was skyjacking. Generally they felt tighter security, less publicity and more international cooperation would hinder hijacking criminals.

Moderators also noticed that students from rural areas were more outspoken this year than in previous years.

“Students for Boulder and Basic City High School, in addition to those from Virgin Valley, Moapa Valley and other outlying schools, participated more this year,” noted moderator Marjory Phillips.

Marge Gray, teacher at Virgin Valley, explained her classes had conducted their own youth forum. “I think this may have helped students who came here,” she said.

Students were hosted to a buffet luncheon in the Convention Center rotunda.

At the conclusion of the day-long meeting, 14 finalist, one from each discussion group, were selected to to present views of their peers both on television and in guest columns for the SUN.

Entertainment was provided by comedian Peter Anthony, appearing at the Bonanza Hotel, and Gus Augspurg of the Tropicana’s “Folies Bergere.”

Finalists selected by fellow students include Steven Ruben of Valley High School, Travis Barrick of Rancho High, David H. Johnson III of Rancho, Mark Micczkowski of Valley, Daryl Thomas of Bishop Gorman High and Annette Ceutin of Southern Nevada Vocational Center (Vo-Tech).

Other finalist are George D. Conrad of Gorman, Nancy Baker of Edwards W. Clark High, Raymond F. Devine, Steve Ratigan, Michael Moore and Gilbert Martin, all of Valley.

Recorders for the 14 groups included Greg Rowley of Las Vegas High, Chuck Dodge of Basic High, Debbie Lewis Basic, Michelle McCrin of Valley, Karen Warren of Rancho, Janet Murphy of Boulder City High, Denica Powell of Rancho and Pam Forbes of Valley.

Other recorders are Becky Estepp of Urban High, Ardith Snowden of Basic, Robyn Warhol of Clark, Debbie Weatherman of Basic, Lillian Baumgarten of Vo-Tech and Ken Fong of Clark.

Group moderators were Peggy Phillips, William Briaire, Marjory Phillips, the Rev. Franzinelli, Joe Delaney and Judy Carlos.

Others were Jim Bilbray, Ray Germain, Dr. Irving Katz, Zel Lowman, Richard Bryan, Judge Robert Mullen, John Wawerna and John Zullinger.

Mrs. Deskin and Clark County School District Administrator Harvey Dondero directed and coordinated the Youth Forum.