Meet Hawaii’s voters of tomorrow: They’re interested in solutions, not squabbling

These kids say they don't want to fight, but debate about how to fix the biggest problems facing society.
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 3:55 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 7, 2022 at 4:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Politics can be a touchy subject for most adults.

For some Hawaii high school students, however, it’s their favorite topic.

On the heels of the general election, those students shared their passion for politics while encouraging others to vote.

At Mililani High School, heated ― yet civil ― debates are a part of the class curriculum.

“I love debating against my classmates because it gives me another viewpoint that I never thought about,” MHS Senior Micah Domingo said.

He’s one of many students in Jason Duncan’s AP Government and Politics class. Duncan teaches students about democracy, the functions of government, and impact of politics.

The debates are his way of making classroom lessons relevant to real-life topics without heavy divisiveness or anger often seen among adults.

“We don’t see that stuff in the classroom... because we set the standard of civility. However, the kids just naturally do that themselves. They’re respectful of each other’s opinions. They have a wide range of opinions,” Duncan said.

Another one of his students, senior Josslyn Rose, recently turned 18 and is a first-time voter in this election.

She also sits on the school’s student body council ASMHS, and is no stranger to campaigning and getting involved.

”We are very much affected by the policies that our representatives enact and we can be very educated there’s a lot of different ways — you can do self research but just from what we learn at school — it’s very important and every vote matters,” Rose said.

The students also learn about the impacts of special interest groups and achieving bipartisanship. Many of them support expanding political parties.

“More ideas means more solutions,” Domingo said. “Most politics today that you see is just the left and the right bashing at each other and this of course distract us from the bigger problems that we face as a nation both domestically and overseas.”

Fellow senior Keenan Yoshizawa added, “The current two-party system makes it very easy for people to become divided, and it makes politics seem black and white when there’s actually a very large gray zone.”

Over at Farrington high School, students not only learn about government, but how to engage with it.

“Government can’t hear what you wanted to do if you just stay silent,” Participation in Democracy teacher Jeff Martinson said.

“Not just the youth, everyone should be encouraged to vote and this is one way to get that started at an early age so that our voting rates in Hawaii increase.”

Teachers say while not every student may want to go into politics after high school, it’s really about the lessons they learn that can be applied to real life.

“I think that with knowledge there is power, and when they leave the course, they will feel equipped with the tools and the knowledge necessary to make a difference,” Duncan said.

“It’s important to not follow what others say and to form your own opinion, especially in today’s world we can be easily influenced by media. It is very important that you form your own educated opinion on the topics that you were looking into,” Domingo said.

Some schools participate in Kids Voting, a program that allows youth to cast mock ballots during election season.