Students magnify their often ignored expression

FHS students interviewed by ABC News about recent election


shot from the original ABC news video

Austin Liu, News Editor, Reporter

Over the last few months, many stirring events have occurred in the United States and the world, including the Dakota Access Pipeline crisis, continuous fighting and war between different groups in Syria, and the recent LaMia Airlines Flight 2933 and Tupolev Tu-154 plane crashes in Colombia and the Black Sea near Sochi in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. Yet, few events compare in influence and scope to the reaction to the presidential election of Donald Trump.

 This significant event has caused America, to a great degree, to become very politically passionate, and in turn, very much divided. Much like the rest of the nation, students at FHS were strongly impacted by the election and expressed their feelings in the months leading up to the election of President Trump.

One of the methods in which students were able to draw from their personal political beliefs was through Suki Highers’ sociology classes’ assignments. All students in Highers’ sociology classes wrote letters shortly after the election, expressing to President Trump what they hoped would happen in his term and their thoughts on his campaign and the future ahead. The letters will be mailed to the President.

“The prompt was: ‘If you are a supporter, congratulate him. If you are not, tell him why. Either way, tell the president-elect what you would like your country to look like. What questions or concerns do you have?’” Highers said.

Highers stated that previously, she “had students write persuasive letters about social issues they felt strongly about, but this is the first time [she] did [this assignment]” because she intended “to do this as a cathartic exercise, where [the students] could write their feelings out on paper and their voices could be heard.”

Highers stated, relating to the students’ letters, “The letters were all over the place, from supportive happy conservative students, to cautiously optimistic conservatives…there were students who were angry, sad, and scared…there were students who did not care at all…there was no common theme.”

One of Suki Highers’ students, senior Daniella Oregon, wrote a letter to the President-Elect, arguing that “some of his comments were dehumanizing,” that “the President should create unity for the country, not divisiveness that destroys the country,” and that “climate change is happening.”

Later, the classes’ letter assignment was taken to a whole new level when ABC News became involved in covering Highers’ students’ voices through their letters. The final aired by ABC News was an article and video titled “Dear Mr. President: Students Write Letters to President-Elect Donald Trump”.

Looking back on the assignment, Oregon believes that “the assignment was very important” in that it “opened [her] eyes… [the assignment showed that] we want to be a generation that is heard.”

“[Writing letters] helps let kids state their opinion and understand different views,” Oregon said. “[The younger generation often] gets ignored. We should let others know our opinions [and that we are] a progressive nation.”

 Highers similarly expressed her belief that “it was extremely important for [her] students to feel like they had a voice that counted.” She further added that it is crucial for teenage students to involve themselves in the political process because “today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders.”

With regard to writing letters to government officials of all levels and sharing personal opinions with others, Oregon expressed that it is necessary to “respect other opinions, even if others’ opinions are different from yours” for “respect between people goes both ways.”

Applying the idea of the assignment to the real-world, Highers said, “Everyone’s voice is important, and until we are able to listen to each other and honor each other, we will never pull together.”

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