Staff Editorial: Raise Your Voice for Change

Not quite children nor adults, high school students are at the midpoint of growing up, trying to change the world as they simultaneously mature. As adolescents, it is easy for teenagers to feel that their voices are muffled. While it is tempting to accept conditions for what they are, it is imperative that youths use their voices and advocate for change at the local, state and even national levels.

Our voices have never been more important. As technology changes the way society works, students have invaluable experiences and perspectives that are crucial in shaping issues brought forth from new advancements. Students are in-tune with what frustrates, what makes them passionate and what drives them.

In the age of digital social media, teenagers have access to platforms more interconnected than ever before. Columbia University statistician Tian Zheng calculated that each person knows at least 600 people, while the Huffington Post reported that a person interacts with at least three new people every day.

No matter how young a person is, he or she has an influence that greatly exceeds that of generations prior. At the local level in schools, our ASB, clubs, programs and productions are proof of the Bulldog bark. Since 2016, ASB has evolved through the voices of student leaders and student feedback. Each year, ASB has changed dances for the better as the student cabinet is actively working hard to make student opinions and ideas into reality. From our athletic commissioners came forth dodgeball tournaments and increased excitement for Game of the Week.

Besides ASB, other students have organized clubs to amplify their voices about specific issues. Recently, Wounded Warrior president and junior Amulya Chava turned her initial passion project idea into reality, culminating in the second annual Veterans Speaker event. Not only has she influenced over 400 students who attended, but she has used her voice to honor those with often unacknowledged voices.

With over 200 learners enrolled in student-led productions like Advanced Broadcasting and Advanced Newspaper, student concern turns into student action. Whether it be on paper or online, student voice has an audience of not only students but also staff, administration and parents.

Students can not only influence local administrators but state legislators as well. High school representatives of the Irvine Unified School District are advocating for an increase in funding during a Sacramento trip on March 5. These representatives utilize one of the most important advantages that youth have: their voices. Through connecting with state legislatures, student advocates not only show that it is important to raise one’s voice and make sure it is heard but also that powerful change can come when youths are bold enough to raise their concerns and stand for something that will affect future generations.

The local and state levels are not the only platforms where youths can raise their voices, or, in certain cases, use a lack of voice for a larger impact. However, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High student Emma Gonzalez has proven that her silence will be heard in the six minutes and 20 seconds she stood as she remembered her classmates’ deaths on March 15, 2018. She and other students organized an activist organization called March for Our Lives, and dozens of students protested gun-violence in front of the White House on Feb. 18, 2018, exercising their right to peacefully protest in hopes to alter legislation. Since March for Our Lives, tangible change has been made, from bump-stock bans, which are firearm accessories that are used to mimic automatic fire, to introducing the bill HR 8 which would require background checks on gun transfers and sales, according to The Guardian.

It is easy to be discouraged by the majority of students whose voices are not heard, but as history shows us, those who take the risk and actively work to be heard have accomplished a greater impact than expected of them. It is important to raise your voice and adovacte, because when you do, you help inspire change and thus become part of something greater.