PENDLETON, Ind. (AP) - Something has changed in the cafeteria at Pendleton Heights High School, said Jessica MacMillan.
“At lunch, politics comes up at least once a week, and the views are very interesting,” she said.
MacMillan is one of many seniors at schools throughout Madison County who have recently turned 18 and are taking their civic duty seriously as they prepare to vote for the first time in Indiana’s primary on Tuesday and in the midterm national election in November.
Since the shooting incident that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students around the nation have put their political representatives on notice, reminding them that many will be of voting age by the time elections come around this year.
As 2018 class president, MacMillan already was politically inclined, but she said the high-profile political activity by youth on a national level has made her even more aware.
“I’m not always super public about it, but I definitely have my views,” she said. “It definitely strikes more of an interest and makes you think more than if those things hadn’t happened.”
MacMillan, who plans to study hospitality, tourism and event management next year at Indiana University, said she has been studying the candidates and the issues in preparation for her first time at the polls.
“I’ve done a fair amount of research on the candidates, just to make sure I am making the decision I want to make,” she said.
Pendleton Heights High School senior Garrett Nealon says, “I was definitely raised in a house where having your own political views, having your own voice, is important.”...Her schoolmate, Garrett Nealon, said he’s excited about this new step in adulthood.“I was definitely raised in a house where having your own political views, having your own voice, is important,” he said.Nealon, who plans to study business administration at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, said he believes young people are making their views known through social media.“The kids are definitely starting to utilize that, and the message is getting across,” he said. “I definitely feel like kids our age are getting more of a voice.”Anderson High School senior Kodie Bair says, “Me voting now may influence what she (my cousin) gets to see, especially with the referendum. I won’t get to enjoy it, but I would have loved it if someone had done this for me.”Anderson High School senior Kodie Bair, who will be joining the Army following graduation, takes voting so seriously, he already has volunteered at the polls on Election Day and expects to do so again this year.“I’m very fond of politics,” the self-described centrist said. “I couldn’t vote at the time, but I wanted to help out.”Like some of the others, Bair said he has been influenced in terms of having his voice heard as the collective voice