Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

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Sun Youth Forum:

Forum shows disgruntled students want to ‘make example’ of Clinton

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Aaron Mayes/Las Vegas Sun

A group of participants in the annual Sun Youth Forum Tuesday, November 24, 1998 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Southern Nevada's best and brightest high school students say President Bill Clinton should be impeached if he lied to prosecutors and the American people.

And a clear majority of juniors and seniors participating in the Sun Youth Forum on Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center said that's exactly what Clinton did.

"He humiliated us as a nation," Horizon South Senior Lindsay Halbert said during a panel discussion monitored by Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., who may one day be part of a historic Senate trial should the House impeach Clinton as it is now debating.

"He has to be made an example of," she said.

Not all of the more than 1,000 Clark County students from 28 high schools discussed Clinton and the White House crisis. Other topics ranged from AIDS to overzealous police.

However, many students participating in groups that discussed Clinton said the lying bothered them more than the sexual exploits that led to the president's problems.

"I don't think the adultery is that important," Aleisha Denton of Las Vegas High said. "The people knew he was an adulterer before they elected him. The perjury and obstruction (are the problem)."

Spencer Kiggins of Green Valley High in Henderson said oral sex, which Monica Lewinsky performed on Clinton, constitutes sexual relations despite Clinton's indications to the contrary.

"He lied to the OIC (Office of the Independent Counsel) -- I think we have a problem," Kiggins said. "For us to see perjury and adultery sends a terrible message to youth. I don't think a president should do this."

Nevertheless, Kiggins says he thinks Clinton should be censured, not impeached.

"He was trying to protect his butt," Kristy Shaw of Eldorado High said. "He knew he was in a lot of trouble. This brings down the trust level."

Jeff Walker of Green Valley agreed: "He lied under oath. He got Monica Lewinsky to lie under oath. Definitely impeachable."

As for Lewinsky, one student summed her up in one word: "Slut."

Alana Nicolai, an Eldorado senior, took exception to that, saying: "Just because she had sexual relations with him does not make her a slut."

But Danielle Ziss of Bonanza High countered: "She is a slut because she wanted the attention."

Richard Crighton of Silverado High had a different view of Lewinsky: "She was young. Bill Clinton is a womanizer who took advantage of a young, naive girl."

Bryan was impressed with the level of preparation of the students in his group.

"They were very critical of the lying under oath, and a great many of them said he should be impeached if he did lie under oath," Bryan said.

Bryan graduated from Las Vegas High in 1955, the year late Sun founder and longtime publisher Hank Greenspun started the Sun Youth Forum to give the area's youth a voice on top issues.

"The Sun Youth Forum gives adults a chance to listen to young people -- something that adults are not very good at," said Bryan, who has participated in 15 of the 43 annual events. "This was a very well-informed group. It is the most mature group I have worked with."

Marcia Merkel, a teacher at Silverado, called the forum "a wonderful opportunity for students" who are selected to represent their schools based on academic excellence.

"This forum makes them feel like they and their opinions do count," said Merkel, a former teacher at Valley and Cheyenne who has participated in many Sun Youth Forums. "They see themselves as having value, and it helps them develop more interest in their community, country and world."

The following students were selected by their peers to write Sun Where I Stand columns (topic, name and school):

Law and Crime: Nikki Travis, Sunset West.

School Daze: Jennifer Apfel, Vo-Tech.

Around the World: Manish Kumar, Green Valley.

Teen Topics: Zach Pogue, Valley.

Home in Nevada: Alex Dixon, Durango.

America: Ryan Kearns, Silverado.

Potpourri: Jonathan Hearn, Boulder City.

The following students were selected by their peers to speak as part of a panel on a UNLV Channel 4 broadcast (topic, name and school):

Law and Crime: Matt Dziedziak, Green Valley.

School Daze: Caily DiPuma, Community College High School East.

Around the World: Stalin Yang, Chaparral.

Teen Topics: Chanel King, Cimarron Memorial.

Home in Nevada: Ryan Falvey, Green Valley.

America: Richard Crighton, Silverado.

Potpourri: Peter Schelden, Boulder City.