Jackson Hacker Reflects on Activism

Gabriella Stover

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Photo by Erin Seccia

Political participation of young adults in the voting process in America is at an all time low. The average voter is around 50 years old, which drowns the voices of teens across the nation.

However, the recent generation of teens have been brought up with passionate views on gun laws, lgbt+ rights, immigration laws, and police brutality. Being raised in an era of school shootings, many students may not be voting yet, but they are becoming activists.

Kings High School senior, Jackson Hacker is one of these students. One year ago, on March 14th, 2018 schools across America participated in walkouts to prove to the government, and to the people who look down on young voter’s opinions, that their voices matter. Hacker, along with two other upperclass students, of Kings High School, rallied passionate highschool students to march out of the front entrance and speak the truths that are commonly dismissed.

“Getting involved in the walkout was a natural reaction to the gun violence in schools over the past two decades, which culminated in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last February,” said Jackson.

In the past year, 113 students have been killed or injured in school shootings, which is what has brought about that rapid demand for safer schools, and stricter gun laws. Students have been made more aware of the insane right to own an automatic, or even military grade gun at the age of 18.

“It has been made obvious by the absurd amount of gun violence in American schools that students do not have the sense of safety they deserve in the classroom,” said Hacker. “Personally, I believe the best way to cut down on this violence is to implement common sense gun legislation – similar to legislation in place in more developed countries- which place serious limitations on access to automatic weapons and to require comprehensive background checks for individuals who wish to buy firearms. My hope is that by adopting policies like these, students will feel safer in their classrooms.”

The goal of the student leaders of the walk out last year, was to make their voices heard to government leaders. They strived to have acknowledgement on the timely tragedies across America.

“The most important way to [help get young voices heard] is to register to vote and to gain basic understanding of the candidates and issues on the ballot by reading various sources so that an informed decision can be made,” said Hacker.

Hacker’s actions toward speaking his beliefs, inspired more than just students. Jonathan Bitzer, Hacker’s English teacher and Quiz Team coach, expressed how he feels knowing that the younger generation is taking on big political tasks.

Knowing that students like Jackson are passionate about and committed to the causes important to them is really a source of comfort.  It is easy for people my age to think that the world is headed in the wrong direction (this is true of people from all sides of the political spectrum.)  We have a tendency to think that the America of our youth was a Golden Age from which the current times are a downgrade. When young people like Jackson, Caleb Owens, Katie Waissbluth, and Nico Melton demonstrate how committed they are to making the world better, it dispels some of those concerns and can even inspire us to do more than we are currently doing,” said Bitzer.

A lot can influence this upcoming generation, and get them inspired to speak about their political beliefs. A big part of bringing up leaders, is the parental influence.

“I’ve met his parents. They come to all the Quiz Team matches, they help run the concession stand every year, and they are amazing people who have done a great job raising their kids.  I have to imagine that that kind of upbringing has something to do with how responsible and involved Jackson is in our community,” said Bitzer.