By Terry Hannum
The Daily Star
---- — If President Obama isn’t sure what problems to tackle as he begins his second term in office, he need only ask the students of South Kortright Central School.
Students at South Kortright were asked about what they would focus on if they were the newly elected president of United States. As with anyone faced with this question today, students typically begin answering with another question: “Where do I begin?”
Current issues in the news captured the attention of many 10th-graders at South Kortright, allowing them opportunities to formulate their own opinions on complex and controversial issues.
Danielle Lennon was clear in her thoughts when she said “If I was president, the issue that I would be concerned about is the right to bear arms. Even with the recent shootings that have occurred, people deserve the right to possess a gun for protection.”
Danielle’s classmate Mackenzie Wright had definite and articulate ideas about what this president should focus on when she explained, “Now that President Obama has been re-elected, I feel his first order of business should be to remedy the terrible economic situation the country is in. This country needs jobs. We need to do what we did during the Great Depression. Step one should be to call it what is, a depression. The president should do whatever he can to stimulate the economy by creating jobs. Bringing industry back to America might be a good second step.
“These drastic steps would definitely be a change for the better,” she continued. “I think it is absurd that rich Americans get so many tax breaks while the working class and poor struggle to make ends meet. My family and I are looking into colleges and we worry about how we will be able to afford it. Going to college should be a given to American teens, as it is in other countries. The insane costs of a good university or private school continues the separation of the classes.
“During his second term, I hope President Obama makes big changes so that my future and that of my peers will not be so uncertain, in turn making the future of America certain as well,” she concluded.
Another avenue of economic revitalization was expressed by Casidy Korba. “I would focus on giving more support to smaller businesses and create more technical jobs,” she said.
“If I were president, the No. 1 issue I would work with is child hunger. I would help kids in this country get adequate nutrition before I focused my efforts on other countries,” stated Samantha Kahrs, another 10th-grader.
On another local and national issue, 10th-grader Ty Palmatier has this presidential goal:“I would focus on the disappearance of small family farms. The amount farmers pay for supplies is very high, yet their profit for selling their product is ridiculously small.”
Eighth-grader Maxwell Canoto explained, “Thinking about the Connecticut shootings, I would focus on the weapons that we have in the U.S. We should not have semi-automatic handguns in the U.S.”
Another eighth-grader, Derek Firment, added his opinion on this issue as president: “I would focus on gun safety and sale laws.”
Schoolchildren’s compassion runs deep, as is clear with Alaine Henderson’s first goal as president. “I would help the homeless people that do not have jobs,” she said. Fellow eighth-grader Arie Brunson had a different goal in mind, saying “I would focus on rebuilding those places destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.”
Seventh-grade classmates Leeanne Williams and Alyshia Korba both stated: “I would find homes for all of the animals in the shelter and take stronger action against people that commit animal cruelty.”
Kira Helmer, also in seventh grade, said, “I would focus on having more American-made goods available in stores.”
Kassidy Wright, a fifth-grader, expressed concerns based on several recent tragedies.”I think the president should make gun control very important. I think only policemen and the military should have guns,” Kassidy said. “Hunters should be allowed a special day to get guns and hunt with police supervision. This should be one of the first things President Obama should take care of.”
Another fifth-grader at South Kortright Central School, Brandon Wright, said, “Now that the president has been re-elected, I think he should bring our soldiers home and end the war.” Upon election, Brandon explained, “If I was president, I would lower taxes and the price of gas. When my parents put gas in the car, it is always is so expensive!”
Second-graders such as Lucus Markell were straight to the point of goals as president. “I would focus on very important papers that would make rules to keep games fair.”
Lucus’ classmate Myra Mata has a point of view that some students might not agree with her on, as she said she would “give people a whole bunch of homework so they learn about stuff.”
With a voice of candid logic, second-grader Dylan Mattice imagined life as the president of the United States, and explained that his first order of business would be to get married.
Simple ideas are oftentimes the best, as second-grader Patricia Karpovich’s said her first plans for her presidency would be “let everyone have lemonade.”
Trying different solutions to the nation’s problems is the goal of second-grader Alexis German, who as president would begin by “making all the paper yellow.”
Not wanting to stop the flow of presidential creativity, classmate Emerson Comer wanted it to be clear that as president it would be important to “make a swimming pool inside the White House.” Emerson might be happy to learn that the pool is already there, hidden under the current press briefing room. A little renovation would be all that is needed.
Fifth-grader Kassidy Wright summarized her views with a commendable goal. “If I were the president, I would try my hardest to listen to what the people wanted,” she said. “I would try to bring America back to the way it was when my grandparents were kids. It was a safer time so young people could go out and not be afraid. As president I would pass more laws to protect the animals and the planet. Hopefully by doing this I would be remembered as the president that saved the WORLD!”
With these ideas, President Obama will have plenty of direction if he is wondering where to begin.