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July 22, 2014

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WHERE I STAND (GUEST COLUMN):

Discussion focuses on issues that hit home

Those in our discussion group had varied backgrounds, but on this day the activities that students were involved in, or the part of town they were from, were irrelevant. The fact to be remembered was that, as a group of adolescents, we were surely facing the same issues socially and domestically.

The day began with an icebreaker that had us introduce ourselves and give a fun fact. Biases aside, we were here as the voice of the future to develop solutions to the problems we, as teenagers, come face to face with on a daily basis. Our moderator, Mary Beth Scow, allowed us to separate into groups to identify the issues we thought were most important.

The issue of condoms being administered in a school setting became a topic for discussion, with students opinionated on both sides. Those who stood for it said it minimized the risks of losing lives to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as helping to prevent the immense number of unplanned pregnancies among youth.

Personally I agreed with this, because by not providing condoms in school, you ignore the inevitable. There is no way of stopping young people from having sexual intercourse; therefore we should minimize the negative effects of it by providing the safest thing other than abstinence.

Others argued that it promoted sex and gave students the OK to indulge themselves in sexual activities. Considering that as a group we could not agree, we decided the best solution was to take the issue to the state, where it would administer a poll, allowing the people to decide with a majority vote.

Another topic that raised a great deal of debate was whether the drinking age should be lowered to 18. For a while the group was again almost evenly divided in its opinions.

As a whole we decided that although you may get other civil rights at age 18, drinking is not a right, it is a privilege, and lowering the age makes access to alcohol easier for those who are even younger. Therefore the age should remain the same. However, we believe that instituting an educational program and eliminating the glamorizing of alcohol would substantially reduce common drinking problems teens face today.

As a group, we also unanimously decided that the safety of Internet sites such as MySpace and Facebook depends entirely on the individual and the choices he makes on the sites. Also, the state should not lower its graduation requirements, but perhaps raise them to increase our rank on a national scale instead of condemning us to a consistent position of 48th.

The most important topics in our discussion were those that will affect, and are affecting, our futures. Our generation does face problems, but we are also the light of hope for tomorrow. We are the eventual leaders and decision makers of the future and with that we need to begin now building a foundation for our youth and constructing the generation that will be talked about for centuries. Tomorrow starts with us, and we plan for it to be one you enjoy waking up to.

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