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High School Students Take On Tough Issues

It’s almost rite of passage for Escalon High School students – sending ‘Letters to the Editor’ as part of a class project.

They come in every year, with teacher Ryan Young tasking the students to write about an issue they are passionate or concerned about, something topical and often in today’s headlines.

One of the topics tackled this year was texting and driving.

“Every year in the US, 1.3 million people die in road accidents and another 20 to 50 million people are injured,” wrote Scott Terpstra. “The National Transportation Safety Board reports that cell phone use while driving causes roughly 1.6 million accidents a year. Texting while driving is not only rampant with teenagers, but also younger adults and even the elderly!”

Terpstra backs up his letter with some facts, such as cell phone use while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. He urges the implementation of new laws and stiffer fines as ways to combat the texting and driving issue.

For student Lexy Underwood, she discussed dress codes in school.

“At many if not all schools there is a dress code. With these dress codes they are mainly faced towards females,” Underwood wrote. “A guy doesn’t have much they can get in trouble for other than if they sag too much they would get told to pull their pants up.”

She urges a little more leniency in enforcing dress codes by taking into account each person’s specific body type, from height to weight and how clothing can fit a variety of shapes and sizes differently.

“A guy or girl should not be put down for what they are wearing unless it is legitimately inappropriate,” Underwood wrote.

Young said the exercise started to get students thinking about the issues, whether they are on a local or global scale.

Carson George went outside the country to make a point.

“I think it’s time the US steps in and dethrones the leader of North Korea not only because of the spike in missile tests that have been landing in the sea around Japan but also because of all the innocent people that have been executed, starved to death, been sent to concentration camps to work until you die,” George wrote in his letter, titled “Help the People.”

Lauren Trejo also expanded beyond the borders of the community, focusing on pollution.

“The sand beneath your toes, the sun kissing your face, everything seems perfect until you look into the distance and see a plastic bag and McDonald’s cup floating up to the shore,” Trejo wrote. “It’s pollution like this that not only ruins our peaceful beach going experience, but the lives of the wildlife that surrounds us. Every day the habitats of ocean creatures are in jeopardy due to humans’ carelessness of not properly disposing of their trash.”

The letters offer a fresh look at many issues, seen from a younger point of view, and Young said it’s a good way for students to also consider the impact of their own actions, now and in the future.

Look for some of the student letters to be printed in their entirety in upcoming issues of The Times, the Letters to the Editor section.