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Students learn lessons from the midterm elections

While the midterm election results have real-life consequences, they also provide lessons for the next generation of voters.

This fall, Albert Contreras, a government and economics teacher at High Tech High School North County in San Marcos, offered his class of seniors an opportunity for a true reality check.

“Here’s a sort of a big philosophical question. Do you think politicians should represent the will of the people, even the ones that don’t vote? Or just the people that vote?” Contreras asked his students during a Tuesday morning class.

They have followed the candidates from local, state, and national races and also researched all of the California propositions on this year’s ballot.

“I always want to be challenging my students, but I also want to validate them," Contreras said. "So, even though they may have differing opinions from their neighbors and even differing opinions at home, I want to arm them with the truth through facts and figures and challenge them on preconceived notions."

High Tech High senior Collin Hoyer, who turned 18 in September, voted for the first time this past election day.

“I was excited to vote and do all this research and learn about the candidates and different propositions," he said. "I was kind of worried about some of the outcomes.”

The High Tech High North County campus has a senior class of 95 students. Most of them are not old enough to vote yet. Sinqi Chapman,17, is one of them. She wants to study abroad in college and maybe visit her home country of Ethiopia.

“I’m proud to be an American and proud to challenge everything that is America," Chapman said. "We have a lot of things we have to solve.”

The senior class conducted its own election early this month, asking students in ninth through 11th grade to vote on all the California propositions.

The student results will be announced at a school assembly on Dec. 16 and those results will be compared to the actual election outcome. It is another teachable moment for Contreras.

“While some of them may not vote, I know they want to make a difference in their communities, so I have great hope for the future,” he said.

Jack Mills, 17, said he would consider pre-registering to vote so he is eligible for the 2024 presidential election.

“It’s one vote in a ton of votes, and if my vote can help things get better, I think that’s important,” he said.

Corrected: November 16, 2022 at 7:59 AM PST
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated Sinqi Chapman's home country as Somalia. It is Ethiopia. KPBS regrets the error.
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