Are VHS students politically educated?

Avery Cameron

With an ongoing war, five out of six interviewed VHS students don’t consider themselves educated, why is that?

Current VHS students are all a part of Generation Z (1997-2012), “With platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, Generation Z… [have] been able to use the digital world they were born into to revolutionize activism” according to the article “From TikTok to Black Lives Matter, how Gen Z is revolutionizing activism”. How are VHS students living up to their strong title of being politically active and educated as Gen Z, especially with the current overseas war between Ukraine and Russia?

Junior Benjamin Tidwell considers himself educated in politics, as well as the current war between Ukraine and Russia. Tidwell said, “I consider myself educated in politics but I also see our current system as obsolete and a popularity contest. I get my information from a mixture of  social media, npr, and other news sites and sources.” Freshman Leah Murphy said she gets her information from social media as well. “I get information from podcasts, social media pages and news platforms that I trust,” said Murphy.

Data shows, that Gen Z (current VHS student’s generation) statistically believes that the government should do more to solve problems than older generations. Data is from the article “On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far.” Graphic: by Kim Parker and Ruth Igielnik from PEW research center in 2018.

Many interviewees said they get their information from social media. Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Thred Media, a company specializing in content for a Generation Z audience, Jenk Oz said, “Research over the past 10 years suggests that clicktivism can be a powerful tool to spread little-known ideas and publicize non-mainstream causes that don’t get the attention they deserve. One tweet or post won’t change the world, of course, but thousands of them can spread beliefs that will.” said Oz in his Tedtalk “Can a ‘Like’ change the world? The power of clicktivism” from 2021.

On the other hand, senior Nicolas Palacio shared in an interview that he doesn’t consider himself educated in politics, “I feel like the more you learn it kinda opens your eyes to all the things you have no clue about. I get most of my information from social media or from Mr. Raney’s class.”

In an interview with Larry Ferlazzo for Education Week, retired middle school teacher, Abeer Shinnawi, taught politics in her classroom. She said, “During my career, I have encountered many teachers who respond, ‘I never teach or discuss politics with friends or students.’ My counter to that statement is always, ‘You have the privilege to not have to discuss politics with friends or in your life because the policies that are being discussed the majority of the time do not affect you; therefore, you believe you are immune.’ When you are a teacher in any school, but especially a school with students of the global majority, discussing politics is vital for many reasons.”

Junior Jasmin Rodriguez doesn’t consider herself educated in current politics, she said, “It [politics] doesn’t cross my mind. I care about it, it sounds selfish but it doesn’t affect me directly. But I plan to vote when I turn 18.” She knows a little bit about the current war between Ukraine and Russia and has learned about it by “Whatever has popped up on YouTube and other social media but I haven’t looked into it on my own” 

Though America is not directly involved in the war, news sites and social media alike have been flooded with information. “That’s [the war in Ukraine] unlikely to trigger a recession in the U.S., where economic growth has been strong over the past year — but the war will probably continue to affect consumer prices and confidence,” said the article “Will the Russia-Ukraine war lead to World War III? And 2 other big questions, explained” by Tom Huddleston Jr. from March 10, 2022. Huddleston continued to address the gas crisis that VHS students are concerned over. “Gas prices have soared to record levels in the U.S., and Biden warned on Tuesday that the cost of gas ‘will go up further’ following the country’s ban of Russian oil imports,” said Huddleston.

Senior Nicolas Palacio said, “Rising gas prices really suck, I’m lucky I’ve got a car with good gas mileage but I know some of my buddies have been spending a small fortune on gas recently.” 

“I don’t feel like I’m super educated in politics I feel like the more you learn it kinda opens your eyes to all the things you have no clue about. I feel like I get most of my information from social media,” said senior Nicolas Palacio. Graphic by: Avery Cameron

Teen journalist Anika Venkannagari wrote an article in July 2020, supporting the idea of teens, like herself, having more opinions surrounding politics. In the article, titled “Why Teens Should Care About Politics,” by Zenerations, she shares personal stories and facts in order to support her argument. “I remember several instances when I would ask my peers, or friends, about their views on certain topics, and several times I was met with responses like ‘I don’t care about politics’ or ‘it doesn’t matter to me.’ It was initially shocking to me that people my age could simply not care about what was going on in the world around them. However, the more I asked others about politics, the more I realized how common it was for teenagers to not care at all. This mindset is extremely harmful to democracy. Teenagers must care about politics, and it’s just not an option to be indifferent,” said Venkannagari.

“I know a little but I don’t keep up with [politics] that much, just the basic info because it’s a sensitive topic.” said sophomore Isabella Dalzell. Dalzell gets most of her information from social media and plans to vote when she turns 18. According to, “From 1972 to 2016, the proportion of youth ages 18 to 24 who reported voting in presidential elections decreased from 50 to 39 percent.” 

“I’m not completely sure about voting,” said Junior Jayden Delacerda, “I wouldn’t consider myself educated in politics. I found my info from the news and Instagram.”

In an interview with Venkannagari, the creator behind the TikTok account Explained Simply, a account dedicated to “educating others about important issues such as Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ+ community, etc.,” 17 year old creator Yara said, “I’m going to be 18 soon, in about a year, and a lot of my friends are turning 18 in just a couple of months, and I know how important it is to educate myself thoroughly before I vote.” 

Five out of six of VHS interviewees did not consider themselves educated in politics, should they be? The question is different regarding one’s view. Most VHS students will be eligible to vote in the 2024 election, will they?