Our youth are listening

Published 2:54 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sometimes my faith in future generations gets a little slack.

When I see them smacking on gum, forgetting to say “please, thank you, yes ma’m,” and texting on their phones continuously, I worry.

I wonder what will happen to our country as they grow up and are handed the reins of leadership. But recently Cathedral School sent students to Jackson to attend Youth Legislature, and I got some assurance.

Email newsletter signup

First of all, when they began meeting and writing their bills to take and present to the Senate and House, I found out several things. One of which was that kindergarten is not mandatory in the State of Mississippi, which I thought had been passed many years ago. Another bill that was decided on was that teachers in all schools, private and public, would have to be certified in CPR — again, one of those “duh” things that I can’t believe someone else didn’t think of.

Naturally, my daughter, Emily, and her girlfriends had to do some shopping ahead of time so be dressed appropriately for the event. And, for once, I found myself on the same page with my 14-year-old, who seemed to understand that this required a certain type of clothing. So that Wednesday we packed them off with a brave group of chaperones and sent them to Jackson. And, quite honestly, my hope was that they would just behave and hopefully get just a little bit of insight into the political process.

That Saturday I headed to Jackson to help get them home and, to my surprise, arrived early. I decided to go in and see how things were going. Sitting in the back row, I was able to see all the participants. Much to my surprise, they were a very orderly group and seemed to not only understand what they where doing, but to be enjoying the entire democratic process.

Of course, one or two bills were silly, but for the most part they were well written. It was interesting to hear the youth from different parts of the state talk about the things that concerned their area and it was even more interesting to hear youth from other parts of the state say “no, you can’t have that.”

One youth Senator from the coast was explaining how the housing insurance on the coast had gone up dramatically and how it should be spread across the state evenly. Quickly in rebuttal a young lady reminded him that tornados hit the Delta of Mississippi all the time and they had more revenue over the years than the Delta also. That bill didn’t pass.

It was also obvious listening to the youth that, for the most part, parents are discussing the days’ events with them. And for all the iPods, cell phones and other accessories, some news about the world around them was actually seeping in. And, most importantly, they cared.

Three of the groups that went had bills passed — Elli Smith and Catherine Myers, Emily Hall and Maddie Kirkwood and Semmes White and Tyler Morrison. The bill that Smith and Myers presented was put on the governor’s platform. Myers was also nominated for most outstanding representative with Smith and Hall being nominated for most outstanding senator. Paige Whittington and Cody Bradford won the most outstanding page award.

So adults, here are the lessons we can learn. Our youth are paying attention and if we play our cards right and keep them interested in the world around them, we will be able to leave our country in good hands after all.

Christina Hall can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.