Smoking and scooters are out. Higher education and healthful eating are in. That was the consensus among several dozen students in the Northshore School District Tuesday night...

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Smoking and scooters are out. Higher education and healthful eating are in.

That was the consensus among several dozen students in the Northshore School District Tuesday night.

They were gathered in the Bothell High School cafeteria for the annual “Town Hall for Teens,” an event organized by state Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell. This is the seventh year McAuliffe has held the forum to gather ideas from her young constituents on everything from traffic tolls to tent cities.

“It really is a way for her to look through our eyes,” said Cale Warnecke. “I think she’ll do something — I hope she does.”

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More than 80 middle- and high-school students huddled at cafeteria tables in an exercise that earned most of them extra credit for class.

On most of the 12 given topics, there was agreement among the students. They wanted more healthful food and fitness options, more information on the limitations of intermediate driver’s licenses and a more-affordable college experience.

“If they can’t afford college, a lot of kids won’t even try to finish high school,” said Briana Sullivan. Playing against the stereotype, the teenagers came out strongly against indoor smoking, cellphones in class and motorized scooters on campus. They also spoke in support of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), which they described as a good way to measure both student and teacher performance.


How to participate




Applications
for the 1st Legislative District Youth Council are available from state Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe’s office. Call 360-786-7600 or 425-481-7459, or e-mail mcauliff_ro@leg.wa.gov.


Some issues generated more debate. A conversation on tent cities for the homeless had some students talking about the need for second chances, while others said the temporary camps were nothing but a distraction. The real issue, those students said, is how to help people get off the street and into jobs.

The voting age also sparked discussion. A few students wanted to see the age lowered to 16, arguing that they knew more about current events than most adults. Others said they were not prepared for the privilege. Looking beyond the list of given issues, students offered their own suggestions. They asked for more college counselors, more alternative schools, quicker police response time and a thorough review of old material before students take the WASL.

For her part, McAuliffe invited students to apply for the 1st Legislative District Youth Council, a group of students who work with her on legislative matters. In previous years, she said, students have testified in Olympia on topics ranging from bullying to cellphones.

McAuliffe praised the passion of the students at the forum and told them if they really want change, they need to help her fight for it.

Cara Solomon: 206-464-2024 or csolomon@seattletimes.com