By Kara Kubarych
Last Thursday, I could have watched Survivor, Ugly Betty, Smallville, maybe even a Project Runway rerun. Instead, I watched the highly anticipated Vice Presidential Debate.
The political sparring and melodramatic moments of the current presidential election have not only provided entertaining political theatre, but have also provided students with the opportunity to actively engage and participate in the political process. As a senior and soon-to-be 18 year old, I will have the privilege of marking my own ballot on November 4 and voting for the future of our country.
As excited as I am to vote, I realize that most of my high school peers are not yet able to share in my newly empowered role. However, this doesn’t and shouldn’t exclude them from the tremendous educational opportunities this election offers. From the groundbreaking nature of the candidates to the severity of the issues facing America, there is no better time than now for students to learn about our political system and consider the ramifications of fresh leadership in Washington. This election is also an ideal opportunity for teachers to help students understand the complexities of the heated race and the hot topics-from the financial crisis to the war to healthcare to the environment-and to guide students in formulating thoughtful views and original opinions.
But disenfranchised students aren’t politically sterile either. With several politically oriented student groups on campus at La Jolla Country Day and myriad ways in which students can volunteer for a campaign, raise funds, and raise awareness, there are countless opportunities to speak up and affect change right now. And in just four short years, today’s freshmen will step into my new shoes in the voting booth.
The attitude of “I don’t know and I don’t care” is no longer tolerable in today’s political quagmire. High school should be the cradle of knowing and caring-a safe place to figure out one’s stance on an ethical issue, a policy concern, or a question of faith. The current campaign should be a drumbeat in the hearts and minds of students, even though we may be drowning in homework, swimming in college applications, and sinking in the abyss of addictive technology. This is our country and our future.
It can sometimes be hard to turn off Gossip Girl, get off Facebook, and think not about what to wear to school tomorrow, but about the state of education-maybe California’s 25 percent dropout rate or the decline of math and science education in the country that just celebrated NASA’s 50th birthday. It is our duty as students to rise above the day-to-day blather and see ourselves in a broader context-not just as San Diegans or high school kids, but as members of the generation dealt the task of solving some very hefty problems.
Four years from now I will be preparing to vote for president for the second time. I’ll be a senior in college by then, about to enter the real world on my own, to face problems that mom and dad won’t be able to solve.
So for the sake of our future, let’s hope that this year that the presidential candidates will garner more votes than the American Idol.
Kara Kubarych is a senior at La Jolla Country Day School where she is co-editor-in-chief of The Palette.