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High School Students Tackle Timely Topics

A class assignment that weaves present day issues with the past, students at Escalon High School have sent their letters to the editor.

The letters, mailed in to The Times, touch on a number of issues in the forefront of teens’ minds.

“I have been using this project for 11th grade US history for the past 23 years. It is a project that focuses on the muckraking journalists of the Progressive Era, which was a time of reform in various areas of society,” explained teacher Ryan Young. “The students are asked to think of an issue in society that they think needs to be reformed and explain how that issue could be resolved.”

Some students focus on specific topics of interest in their neighborhood.

“As a kid, I played on the streets, from morning to night. Me and my neighbors loved playing sports, especially basketball,” wrote Shehab Algaheim. “We would have a basketball hoop on the road and play all day. I still see this today with many kids in my neighborhood.”

Algaheim went on to note that it is dangerous with cars passing by.

“This is why we need a local basketball court for the kids to play at,” suggested Algaheim. “A basketball court would not only be a way to bring our community closer but a way to keep our kids as safe as possible.”

Letter writer Yanely Gomez dealt with an issue with a broader scope.

“Human trafficking is at an all-time high. There are about 40.3 million victims to human trafficking all over the world this year only,” Gomez wrote, suggesting the use of social media platforms to provide tips to avoid becoming a victim.

“In the year 2000, there were an estimate of 600,000 men and women who were victims to human trafficking. The increase of number in 22 years is a ridiculously large amount, more than double from the year 2000.”

Homelessness was also a frequent topic.

“I think homelessness is a severe problem,” wrote Zachary A. Murphy. “Homelessness needs more attention than it is getting because it leads to a lot of trash on the streets which can cause environmental issues in our community.”

Murphy noted seeing homeless along the local freeways but pointed out that it is much larger than that.

“Homelessness is not only a local or state-level issue. Homelessness has become a national issue. At this point, homelessness makes me think the Government is not trying to help decrease homelessness.”

The Times will include a few student letters in their entirety in each issue during February, giving a representative view of the topics covered.

“I can’t really say if issues have been trending more away from local to national issues,” Young said of the letters over the past two decades, “but I can say that abortion – mostly against – is usually the most popular topic each year.”