Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

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WHERE I STAND:

Sun Youth Forum: No time to waste — the future is here

Daniel Daniels of Del Sol High School  - 2011 Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum representative Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

Daniel Daniels of Del Sol High School - 2011 Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum representative Tuesday, November 22, 2011.

About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 55th annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 22. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. Daniel Daniels of Del Sol High School writes about issues covered by his group, “Potpourri.”

The first thing to come across the minds of the students in room N241 of the Las Vegas Convention Center was the ever-so-touchy topic of whether marijuana should be legalized and taxed. The group wasted no time delving into the topic. Arguments were made for both pro- and anti-cannabis laws. To the surprise of many, the overall consensus of our group was for the legalization and taxing of the plant.

A member of my group stated, “I think it’s naive of us to waste any more time on the issue — our nation’s in debt and everything else we’re doing isn’t working.”

Before any of us had time to blink, a couple of topics had gone by. Lunch was almost over, and our time was almost up, so we quickly moved to the topic of education. Just then, none other than Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones walked into the room to give us a moment of his time. His words of wisdom invigorated the flames of our discussion.

Our group had a single platform: Education in Las Vegas needs to be reformed on every level. We believe the policy implications need to be focused on the students and their futures, not on politicians and their corporate buddies’ wallets.

However, all is not bleak. We have faith in our district’s leaders and its superintendent and believe he can bring a fresh breath to a suffocating system. Peers in my room were the most open about this topic, and many arguments held valiant points, simply because it’s happening to us as teens in the system.

We couldn’t help but be optimistic for our valley’s future youth. We all understood that a nation or population is only as good as its investments in its future — us. We all left feeling a little better knowing that there were other students in the education system who care and want to see the best for Las Vegas.

Those in room N241 were filled with viewpoints, opinions and thoughts that some of us agreed with and some didn’t. The overall undercurrent was not the sake of argument but the mere fact that we could come together in a stress-free setting among peers who share the same concerns. Out of all the topics talked about at the 2011 Sun Youth Forum, the only one that all of us opinionated teenagers could agree on was the profound effect of the Sun Youth Forum and its attitude instilled in us that we are the future, and change is ours when we want it.