This article was written by journalism student, Otis Loga.
Last Thursday on April 6th instead of students eating lunch with their friends, more than 230 people attended Town Hall with Bernie Sanders.
The senator wanted to come to talk to all of the students that attended the Town Hall about the problems that they wanted attention brought to. Students wanted to hear from Bernie Sanders about what he was working on to fix these problems. “The people who know the issues the most, the people who can help me, are you because you’re experiencing all of those issues,” said Sanders.
Senator Sanders spoke for 45 minutes and then left 15 minutes for students to ask him questions and discuss their concerns and what they wanted to see changed. The main topics that Bernie Sanders focused on during his speech were healthcare, mental health, and education of students and how this impacts students around the school.
When addressing mental health and the impact on teens, Senator Sanders brought up that we are the “COVID generation”. Which impacted our mental health and communication with each other. “The bad news is that your generation is going through a set of traumas that no other generation in modern history had, You’ve had to go through the pandemic,” said Senator Sanders.
He also mentioned that one of his close friends John Fetterman worked with Senator Sanders in Washington, D.C. This man was “courageous” because he could feel that he was not in the right state of mind and checked himself into a mental health facility. “He gets himself signed into a mental facility, a mental hospital. He said publicly is really quite courageous.”
Senator Sanders also expressed his strong feelings that “healthcare is a human right, not a privilege,” Bernie Sanders said. Bernie Sanders would like to see healthcare and other human rights be free to the public. He is passionate to grant people access to health care, including mental health care, without hesitation.
When students asked the Senator about minimum wage, he asked the audience of students “If $17 an hour would make a difference in your family.” Sanders said. The audience of students replied, “Yeah, it would.” With Senator Sanders’ follow-up response, “Would that make a difference in your family?”
Senator Sanders also pointed out that our parents and the generation that came before us did not have cell phones or the apps or the ways we use our cell phones for communication now. “Someone can mean something on text messages, but it can be a whole different thing, and arguments get started and fights get started and you could ruin a friendship,” said Fiona Shores, a 7th-grade student who attended.
On his way out I got to ask him one question: “How did the Bernie meme about your mittens make you feel?” He replied laughing: “It made me feel very famous and got a lot of attention”.
Before Senator Sanders went back in his car to head over to Spalding high school he took pictures with the students and signed a couple of the school library books.