Friday, Jan. 6, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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. Jazmine Kiera Williams of Canyon Springs High School writes about issues covered by her group, “School Days.”
Nov. 22 was one of many students’ first opportunity for fellowship with others from the Clark County School District and to discuss major topics in the world. I was granted this opportunity for the first time, and most would never suspect that students my age would be knowledgeable on the economic and political topics that revolve around our lives.
We are the future; we too have a voice, a voice that needs to be heard. Moreover, with the abounding views, the media need to focus more on what educated students have to say rather than focusing on falsified reality TV shows that corrupt young minds.
“School days” was a topic to which everyone was able to relate. As we started off with the topic of bullying, personal and vital points were made. One that stuck out was how the media point fingers at students but don’t take notice of where it actually starts. Our environment is filled with critics, and no one is free from judgment. In politics, you hear candidates patronizing each other rather than addressing the major issues and finding ways to work together. Reality shows reveal nothing but hot trends on who has stunning and expensive clothing and badgering those who don’t have the new Louis Vuitton handbag.
Another topic was school uniforms and dress codes. Some believe they save money and lessen bullying. Uniforms do neither. At a young age we are taught to be free and to be ourselves. Is that not what growing up is all about: finding who we are and expressing who we are despite what those who belittle us have to say?
Dressing as ourselves helps us to identify who we are and even find those who are like us, one student from Las Vegas Academy said. No matter how equal school administrators try to make us, no one is the same. People are unique, so we should speak and wear what we want. Whoever thought uniforms would stop bullying needs to face reality and see that clothing is just one thing people use to make judgments. Even if uniforms were issued, people will still be judged.
Another major topic was whether teachers’ performance should determine how much they get paid.
While some argued that many teachers are just not motivated and have no business teaching students, others defended teachers by saying the fault really lies with the students and the work they put forth. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. You can’t force a student to learn. Even the best teachers can push their students, but if the students don’t apply themselves, that is their choice, and teachers shouldn’t suffer because of lazy students.
Overall, we agreed that the choice is always up to an individual, and what they decide will lead them for better or worse. No one can decide for you.
I am so grateful for this event and the many students I got to meet. Thank you, and to all students: Know that you have a voice and the key is how you use it to make a difference.