Editor’s note: Recently your hometown newspaper met Sylvan Hills High School Teacher Linda Morgan, who obviously is passionate about her pre-advanced placement ninth graders. The newspaper posed the question: If your students could change the world, what would they do? The following is the world they would create if it would be in their power to do so.
If you were given the power to change things, what would it be? For most adults, this would be a daunting question with a response requiring some thought. Yet, the topics and issues chosen by some pre-advanced placement ninth graders at Sylvan Hills High School were not typical of 14-year-olds. After completing weeks of research and study of George Orwell’s "Animal Farm," students revealed the widespread and insightful issues of their minds when asked, "If you had the power to change things, what would it be?"
"If I could change something, it would be the lack of discipline," said Markus Robinson. "We have unruly children with no self control. And to me, discipline starts at home. Children need to be taught responsibility by the parents whether that be from spanking or grounding. Discipline gives a child a sense of self control and common sense."
Ashlie Russell completely agreed. "Parents have stopped raising their children the way they’re supposed to. Parents should discipline their children and prepare them for the world. Too many parents leave the disciplining to the schools. Although I do believe that discipline in schools is lax and needs to be stricter, I also believe school wouldn’t need to tighten up so much if parents would do their jobs at home."
"If I could change anything," said Dominique Darrough, "It would be the nation’s perspective on how everyone is equal. I come from an African American family with eight children, and I do not feel that everyone is getting equal benefits. If we are all equal, why are some people homeless and others have so much?"
Childhood obesity is an issue that concerned Hadleigh Cahoone. "This is a huge epidemic in our society today. More than one third of our children and teens are overweight in the U.S. What most children do not realize is that much of the food we are being served is full of preservatives and hormones that are bad for us. Parents should take a step back and realize that one of the things hurting us is beyond our control."
Temuulen Zolbayer responded,"Our men and women in the military should have jobs when they return from their service to our country. Some athletes and entertainers earn millions of dollars but do nothing to better our country."
Zolbayer added, "Veterans do get checks regularly after their service, but sometimes it’s not enough to pay their expenses. I also think raising the salaries for the military would attract more qualified people and our nation could be stronger, safer, and better."
Patiently awaiting her turn to speak, a passionate Cassidy Zgonc spoke her mind. "This country’s national debt is ludicrous. We are currently $16.4 trillion in debt. The way this country is handling this problem apparently isn’t working. It’s steadily rising and it is not fair to my generation that we and our children will be paying this debt. We give away foreign aid in money we don’t have. I also think people on welfare should work some and have to pass a drug test to receive welfare."
Zgonc added, "I believe our national, state, and even local budgets should be redistributed to place more emphasis on education. Our country’s education system needs more funds in order to improve. School buildings are falling apart and our supplies are severely limited. Massive amounts of foreign aid and welfare funds could be reduced drastically. Also, in my opinion it is of the utmost importance that schools need those funds to offer self-defense classes so that students can protect themselves in a world that grows more dangerous each day."
Bethany Jacques responded quickly and had no trouble convincing her peers on this issue.
Emma Anderson added some commentary on an issue not usually on the minds of teenagers of any age. "It is common knowledge," she said, "that when people don’t do their jobs, they get fired. In Congress, however, it seems that if they don’t do their jobs, we are the ones who suffer. Congress is constantly bickering. Even if they don’t solve our problems, they still get paid. They should not get paid unless they get the job done. Political parties are a problem. People sometimes vote for someone because of their party. I believe, too, that political parties should be gone."
Teacher Linda Morgan said she is very proud of her students.
"I wanted them to apply the lessons from our classroom literature to our lives today," said Morgan, AP English teacher at Sylvan Hills High School. "Their awareness levels of current problems in the world they live in are phenomenal. We as adults should give our kids a chance to speak out about the world from their perspectives. Sometimes, they’re worth listening to."