Look out, Mr Mayor.
Five Park Hill High School students chosen to play a specific role in Mayor Sly James’ third State of the City address Monday are preparing themselves quite seriously.
They’ve got their questions ready for the post-speech question-and-answer session. And they aren’t revealing them now. Not in advance.
They mean to spring them on James.
Not that they’d call themselves a rough crowd. Each graciously says he or she is honored to represent the generation that James said he aims to feature in his speech.
The idea that they will be talking policy, said student Joey Cation, and that the mayor will be responding to their questions “shows anyone can make a difference, even an 18-year-old.”
James, of course, welcomes the youthful exuberance.
He is taking this year’s speech to the auditorium at Park Hill High School and is having it streamed live by KCPT. The mayor’s office particularly wants schools to tune in for the 10:30 a.m. speech onwww.kcpt.org
, to spark some real-world civics lessons.
The mayor probably will have difficult issues on his agenda, like the future of KCI, streetcar lines, violence and city charter politics, as well as education.
“We’re making decisions that younger people are going to be living with in the future,” James said. “We need to involve them.”
He’s eager to try out this new format, James said, bringing in “young people, social media, live streaming — it’s invigorating.”
The students asking questions of the mayor won their spots because of their questions, principal Brad Kincheloe said. He invited all seniors in the school to submit ideas, and he picked out a sampling.
It’s striking, Kincheloe said, how well today’s teenagers understand their world and its politics. “They’re much more sophisticated now than when their parents were in school, or I was in school.”
The lineup prepping for the mayor features Rachel Winders, who wants be a mental health nurse.
Cation is aimed toward political science and a career as a politician.
Eric Krieger is off to the U.S. Marines after high school, planning to earn a law degree and become a military lawyer.
Blake Nave says she has caught the thrill of broadcast journalism at the high school’s television station and sees herself reporting news stories.
Andrew Jiminez loves math. Got turned onto it his freshman year and figures he’ll be teaching it in high school, like the teacher who inspired him.
They are mostly optimistic about the future, they say, though Winders worries about paying for college. And Cation mentions the still uncertain economy and the strain on jobs.
“It’s going to be a hard road,” Nave said. “People can shut down people’s dreams but you keep persevering.”
There’s probably grist for some good questions in all of that, though a few of the students ultimately consented to offer only some broad hints.
Be thinking taxes, gun control and women’s issues.