Students found engaged by moment in history

Published 2:58 pm Saturday, January 24, 2009

Watching the Obama inauguration ceremony and address from the media center at Helena Middle School where students, for the most part, seemed genuinely interested and attentive and the teachers in attendance, fully engaged and captured by this moment of living history, I thought about the mass potential that is shaped within the walls of every school.

Considering the newly elected president’s challenge for every American to work together to reunite our fractured nation, I posed this question to a group of seventh graders from Tricia Robert’s class who viewed the ceremony in its entirety.

“What choice can you make and what responsibility will you take as an individual to better our country?” Here are some excerpts from this impromptu assignment.

“All kids must choose to make their best effort in school. Having an education is a big responsibility for young adults and allows each of us to become a leader,” said Tristin.

“Responsibility is taking control of your own actions. We should forget color, forget race, and band together as Americans,” said Blake.

“I can help change my world by planting a tree. We can become more faithful to God and he will guide us where we need to go,” said Payton.

“I think we should include all religions and ethnic cultures in our activities. I am going to educate myself before voting because I think that we should spend more time helping each other than debating politics,” Dana said.

“I should try to be successful in my own life and to remember the words I heard today, ‘Turn to each other, not against each other. Practice tolerance, not intolerance,’” William said.

“I think our country should start a recycling program. An easy way to start is to have a four-bin trashcan in your kitchen. Don’t throw away those banana peels –– turn them into compost! By taking a little extra time, we can have a cleaner Earth,” said Sarah.

“I think we should take more steps towards helping the homeless. It scares me to think this could happen to my family, and if you put yourself in their place, you can see how important it is for everyone to have a home,” said Carla.

“We must pull ourselves away from our constant, undying greed. Youth, like me, should help those in need and not take what we have for granted. I embrace unconditional love for each other,” Perry said.