Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 21, 2012

Annual Youth Forum marks successful Youth Appreciation Week

Staff Writer
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Last week, the Greensburg Optimist Club wound down its observance of “Youth Appreciation Week” with its annual Youth Forum, held and broadcast live from the studios of local radio station WTRE.

On-air personality Emily Verseman hosted.

North Decatur High School Senior Brandon Hocker was joined by Greensburg Community High School Senior Ella Westhafer for an hour-long question-and-answer session, which covered a wide range of topics.

The two seniors offered sometimes unexpected, but always candid answers to questions regarding politics, school bullying, social media, school lunches, cell phone use in school, reality TV, preparing for college, choosing a career, community involvement and others.

Hocker may have offered the morning’s most interesting answer when asked about Indiana’s recent and sweeping reforms of the state’s educational system.

Asked about the assignment of school grades under the reforms, Hocker responded, “I think school grading is too generalized. The new system tries to run schools like they’re a business, and I think schools are more complex than that. Teachers are just teaching toward a test now, basing an entire grade on just one day of testing.”

Hocker further derided the new system’s focus on standardized testing, saying teachers spend the entire school year now talking about and teaching to a single test.

Both students expressed dissatisfaction with the U.S. Electoral College, with Hocker characterizing America’s presidential election system as a “dinosaur in a modern time,” put in place in an era when the population was far less educated and informed than it is now.

Hocker listed time management as his greatest single challenge as a student, while Westhafer said that being a positive role model for younger students is hers.

Both students agreed that sports are fun, but that they should never take precedent over academics.

Both agreed, too, that students should be extremely mindful of both how much time they spend on Facebook and of what they post.

“I was addicted to Facebook when I first started using it,” Westhafer confessed.

Hocker posed that, when posting to the social media site, students should ask themselves, “Would I want my mom and dad, my teachers or preacher to see this?”

Added Westhafer, “I don’t think most kids make the connection that what you put on Facebook will come back to haunt you.”

Hocker said he doesn’t mind the substantial changes in school lunches begun with the current school year, while Westhafer isn’t terribly pleased with them.

“I’m not a big fan of it,” Westhafer said. “They got rid of fries and bread sticks, and I guess that’s a good thing.”

Both also said they’re too busy to watch reality TV on a regular basis — or any TV — and both agreed that younger children are being exposed to more than ever.

“Kids now are trying to grow up too fast,” Hocker said.

Westhafer agreed. “My younger brother and sister have been exposed to much more than me.”



Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.