SCHS student urges government participation


Sandy Creek High School Senior Ben Weinhardt didn’t just read his award-winning essay on Memorial Day. Instead, he delivered an impassioned plea for Americans to do their civic duty, just as the soldiers who have laid down their lives for our country.

Weinhardt was also critical of those who sit on the sidelines instead of arming themselves with information and acting upon it, as a way of making this country great.

“As of late the people of our nation have been somewhat lacking in their active duty of participation in the world around them. This is in part due to ignorance,” Weinhardt said, citing a Newsweek study in which 30 percent of respondents couldn’t name the vice president and 6 percent couldn’t say which calendar day of the year Independence Day is celebrated on.

“And 73 percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights,” Weinhardt said. “These statistics are absolutely terrifying. How are we as a nation supposed to responsibly participate in government if we don’t even know what our rights are? The answer is simple: we can’t.”

Weinhardt advocated teaching citizens how to participate in government in much the same way they are taught to drive a car for the first time: “by going over the basics” and specifically the U.S. Constitution.

Weinhardt said he recently had the chance to vote for the first time, and he was excited to see how his vote would affect government, especially on the federal level.

He also strenuously encouraged more citizens to participate in government by “voting on representatives whose ideals we agree with.”

“Participating is going to meetings so that we know what is going on in our community. This is where giving back comes into play,” Weinhardt said. “When we are out and participating in government and we see something we don’t agree with, it is our responsibility, our requirement to stand up, voice our concern and not sit down until the problem is solved.”