Guest Opinion: For young persons, knowledgeable engagement equals volcano power | September 28, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - September 28, 2012

Guest Opinion: For young persons, knowledgeable engagement equals volcano power

by Brigid Godfrey

We've all heard the saying, "To assume makes an ass out of you and me."

Many of us have used it and had it used against us — but it really is true, isn't it?

I mean, when you think you know the whole story but you really don't, you generally end up being put in your place by that smart-ass that seems to randomly jump into conversations and whose sole purpose is to make others look like idiots. Or what about when your parents are yelling at you for doing something they just assumed you did?

How do you get the whole story? It depends on what your story is about, but "caring" is the right start to any odyssey.

What about these elections that are coming up right here in Palo Alto? Do you care about them? Maybe you should because people on the school board control things such as the length of passing periods and what time school starts, while members of the City Council have the power to create new skate parks and teen events. Are those things you care about?

Now let's do a little geometry. I promise this "proof," unlike those you've had to endure in school, will be quick and painless. Use the given: Teens care about that stuff, and the candidates care about that stuff. Now use the transitive property to come up with the result: Teens care about candidates. See? Quick and easy — just like I promised.

Anywhoo, if you can name all the candidates running for all the positions I would like you to personally turn around and give yourself a pat on the back. My back remains pat-less. I plan to do something about it. What about you?

Do you care? That's really my question. I know I would like my school day to start a little later and my lunch hour to be a little longer, but what about you? My guess is that if you've gotten this far into this article you probably do care about certain things — and with a little probing could probably find a lot more.

What do you feel about having finals before the winter break? What would it take to help you feel more "connected," whatever that means, to your school or community?

Do you feel adults listen enough to teens' ideas or suggestions? Which school board or council candidates do you think might be the best listeners to youth?

And are you prepared enough, armed with enough solid information, to say things that are worth the listening time of others? If teens don't care enough to find out the facts and speak out about their thoughts and feelings, what right does anyone have to complain about "not being listened to"? So dig in and speak out, OK?

Well, I guess you could be one of those over-achieving types who talks to the teacher about politics and laughs at the jokes that nobody else gets, which probably also means you've been correcting my grammar. But that's beside the point.

What was I talking about? Oh, right — caring. My guess is you do care about things in school or the community that affect you, or your family and friends. If you do, you should show it. Let the candidates know what's important to you, to teens in general even. Go to the forums, ask questions, check the candidates' websites, the newspaper website, the city and school district websites — get the whole story. I certainly don't want to be an ass. I don't know about you.

I'm about to let you go about the rest of your life, but I leave you with one thought: Remember back in elementary school when we all had to watch one million of those baking-soda-and-vinegar volcanoes? Yeah? I think elections are kinda like those — the candidates are like the baking soda and the people are like the vinegar. They need each other to make a volcano.

I wonder who the red food dye is? Anywhoo, are you just going to leave that baking soda hanging? Come on bro, that's not cool. OK, my little spiel is over, you are free to go.

Note: Candidate forums will be held Oct. 3, 8 to 9:30 p.m. at the Palo Alto Unified School District offices, 25 Churchill Ave., for Board of Education candidates and Oct. 11, 8 to 9:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 250 Hamilton Ave., for council candidates.

Brigid Godfrey is a sophomore at Palo Alto High School. She swims, plays water polo, bakes and believes teens should be more involved in their communities.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2012 at 12:00 am

Brigid I like your baking soda-vinegar analogy which reminds me that I once booked a punk rock band named Supernova to play at Cubberley Center - I am a concert promoter and artist manager running for City Council. Supernova did a cool version of the Mentos song -- Mentos, which also, or so I hear, make for an interesting science experiment. This 12-second clip they may or may not have played at that show -- it was a while ago. If your parents are cool, they might vote for me.
Mark Weiss
Candidate for City Council

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