By Abigail DesVergnes
Only a fraction of area high school students are eligible to vote in Tuesday’s presidential primary, but plenty of them have strong opinions on candidates they support.
And, like voters of all ages, that support runs the gamut.
A recent informal poll by the Bishop Feehan High School student newspaper, The Rock Report, found a tight race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders.
Of 273 votes, Sanders, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist, narrowly edged out Trump, the billionaire developer, 94 votes to 92.
Democrat Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, polled a distant third, with 32 votes.
Issues run the gamut, too.
“I’m looking for a president who will do something about the many issues plaguing our country, including income inequality between men and women as well as the top 1 percent, and for that reason I support Bernie Sanders,” Feehan senior class president Dan Krauth said.
Attleboro High School junior Andrea Machowski is worried about the country’s fiscal health, and looks to Trump’s business experience.
“With only 1 million dollars, he was able to build his billion-dollar empire,” Machowski said. “A leader like Trump would benefit our nation and save us from our national debt.”
The global threat of terrorism is a hot-button issue, but there’s no single approach to blunt it, and no single candidate to take it on.
AHS junior Ally Beard supports Clinton.
“Hillary’s experience with foreign diplomatic relations is unmatched by any other candidate, due to her experience as secretary of state,” she said.
AHS senior Owen McKenna, who plans to vote in the Massachusetts primary, has a very different take – and, it’s Republican.
“Due to his strong support with national security, I’m voting for Marco Rubio,” McKenna said. “I believe it’s time the country comes together to defend against the threat of terrorism.”
High school students are not unlike adult voters, in that they weigh national interests and self interest, and look for where the two might converge.
As students plan for college and their lives afterward, many consider the obstacles they will face along the way.
AHS junior Jacob Vieira supports Republican Ted Cruz, and his reasoning is straight-forward.
“His simple flat tax is estimated to build over 5 million jobs within the U.S.,” Vieira said. “This is extremely important, as I will be joining the work force within a few years.”
And, with the average student loan debt from a four-year college totaling $26,000, according to collegescholarships.org, tuition is an obvious concern.
It’s an issue AHS senior Lexi Barboza will face soon.”I plan on attending Worcester State next year, and as a student I agree that college needs to be more affordable,” she said.
Sometimes, candidates and their supporters just share core beliefs.
Feehan sophomore Kevin Baker is anti-abortion, and has attended the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.
“Ted Cruz’s pro-life stance is the reason I would vote for him,” Baker said.
AHS senior Hunter Wain is a member of U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III’s Congressional Youth Cabinet. And like Kennedy, D-Brookline, who represents much of the Attleboro area, he endorses Clinton.
“I plan on voting for Hillary because I support her moving forward with the Affordable Care Act,” Wain said. “As well, she’s aware and ready to take action about the issues our country is facing, such as equality for all.”
It has not escaped high school students that this has been an unconventional and unruly election year.
AHS senior Hunter Araujo offers an optimistic look forward.
“It’s time the people of this country come together, listening and working with each other and implementing the best ideas from each political party to make our country a better place,” Araujo said.