How Political is the H-F Student Body?

Emma Murphy, Co Editor-in-Chief

During the last four years, the world has seen the power of a student’s voice. The world has seen students come to the front of the gun control movement, climate change and social justice. 

Students like Emma Gonzalez, whose friends were shot and killed while attending school at Stoneman Douglas High School, is the founder of March For Our Lives. Marches took place all around the country to fight for gun-legislation in all 50 states. Another student Greta Thunberg was only 15 years old when she started protesting climate change. In the process, Thunberg has become the face of the climate movement. There were even young people who went out and let their voices be heard during the Black Lives Matter protests. 

The community watched as students from H-F and surrounding schools planned Black Lives Matter protests, fundraisers and vigils. Alumni and current H-F students created an Instagram page dedicated to youth activism. Youth Against Inequality was founded by Patrick Brewton, Adam Freeman, Kai Offett, Ava Jones, Mikayla Maxon, Jazz Jabulani and Ariel Davis

In 2018 and 2019, students at H-F organized walkouts during the school day to protest school shootings and after multiple H-F students did black face. H-F students have a history of using their voices to make instrumental changes in the H-F community. 

The Voyager surveyed 130 students about their political beliefs, issues they care about on a local, national and international level and if they believe their voice matters.

60.6 percent of the students we surveyed believed that their voices and opinions have power. Many students came to the conclusion that though students don’t have the privilege to hold office or vote, they can still use their voice to stand up for what they believe in. 

“While we aren’t necessarily in positions of power, we do have ways of being heard. This can be through social media, family/friends in the government, and even just making a difference and showing what we care about,” senior Yva Waita said. “Most adults do realize that we are the future and need to be acknowledged. Our generation is very headstrong which I love. If we aren’t being heard we often make our voices heard.”  

The other 39.4 percent of the students surveyed believed that since they are young their opinions on political matters don’t matter since they don’t have the right to vote. Many students said that when they do speak out about something their opinions get overlooked or never heard because adults judge them on their age. 

Though many students believe that their voices and opinions don’t matter in comparison to adults, they still had a lot of opinions on local, national and international issues. 

On the local level, students called upon the H-F administration and school board to make mental health, racial education for students and teachers and real-world scenarios in classes their top priority. 

“I would like to start seeing changes that are more flexible with students. Due to the pandemic, the mental health of students has been slowly going down which leads to no motivation throughout the school year.” sophomore Anly Flores said. 

Junior Omari Mason believes that the school needs to do a better job of preparing students to do “real-world” tasks like filing taxes. 

“Our school has to put more into teaching our students about the happenings in the real world. Financial lessons, including dealing with insurances, loans, scholarships, mortgages and other topics should be taught or at least introduced,” Mason said. “Schools are not only supposed to teach math, science, history, or languages that mostly become “useless” later on in life. Schools should teach and introduce topics that we need to survive once going to or out of college.”

The issues students care about on a national and international scale varied from national security, climate change, homelessness and immigration. The issue most students care about is the fight for equality for all races, genders and sexual orientations. 

“I care a lot about creating equal rights for everyone. Supporting causes like BLM and the fight for LGBTQ+ rights are very important to me. Allowing the US to be a safe and welcoming environment for people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, gender, whatever it may be,” junior Erik Dedo said. 

Sophomore Faith Kenshol believes that “when we can’t respect and treat others equally our problems will never be solved.”

While a large majority of people felt equality was the most important issue today, other students argued that homelessness is ravaging our country. 

“I believe homelessness is a MASSIVE problem people/government tend to overlook because the system fails to protect these specific groups of people from harm due to bogus reasons. A lot of people believe that homelessness brings a community down and devalues their property,” senior Sarah Smith said. “Naperville was recently about to approve another huge building for public housing, however, the majority voted no because they were afraid of the neighborhood losing its integrity. The problem has become so bad that there are laws directed towards homelessness (No soliciting,  no entry after dusk, the prohibition of begging, etc).” 

Not only is homelessness ravaging our country, but the fight for immigration is an ongoing issue that politicians fight about on a daily basis. 

“Personally having a mother who is Colombian, who came here for a better life has made immigration issues important to me. Families come here seeking asylum or the so-called American Dream, and in return have been separated from their children/loved ones, detained, and put in cages for months to be deported back to a country they fought so hard to leave from” junior Jhordan Wicks said. 

The H-F student body cares about a variety of real-world issues. The conclusion the students reached after taking this survey was adults need to take time to listen to students in order to accomplish real change and progress in our community and abroad.