Federal Photo Essay

High School Students Give Voice to Presidential Election

By Education Week Photo Staff — November 03, 2016 1 min read

Amy Powell, a high school photography teacher in Ohio, asked her students how they felt about the presidential election during a time when they are not yet old enough to vote.

Many of us adults are fatigued by what’s being called “election depression” and can’t wait for this to be over. Friends online have posted about needing to do yoga or drinking copious amounts of wine to stomach the third debate, and I admit, this particular election season has made me feel a bit anxious too.

As a high school photography teacher in Ohio, I’ve struggled with how to talk about the election with my students. Generally speaking, teachers don’t usually share their own political beliefs and it’s often easier to steer away from controversial topics in the classroom. When things get uncomfortable for me, however, it’s typically a signal to do something.

On a whim following the final debate, I asked students to sit for a portrait expressing their feelings about the upcoming election. These pictures offer a snapshot at how suburban Ohio teens feel at a time when they’re old enough to have opinions about what’s going on in the world, but not old enough to vote.

This experience gave our class an opportunity to be silly and make light of what seems to be a troubling situation for many of us.

Carrie, 17 – It’s weird. Right when I become old enough to understand what’s going on with elections and things of that matter, all I want to do is run away from it all. To say the least, I don’t think I’ve ever been more worried for my future.
Ava, 16 – Everything has been annoying. A huge eyeroll for a hugely obnoxious election.
Eric, 18 – What has surprised me most about this election has to be internet rights. While cyber security has been discussed, it has largely been concerning national, not personal security. What if your e-mails were hacked like Hillary’s?
Brigid, 16 – No matter what angle I look at it, I can’t find a positive thing to say. I’m embarrassed I live in America.
Noah, 17 – I will remain an American. I love this country, what it is and what it was, but I’m honestly worried about the future.
Derek, 17 – I’m angry that they haven’t made much progress and are so divided. Overall, stressed.
Hafiz, 16 – People aren’t taking it seriously. People need to think.
Kendall, 17 – This election has to be one of the most crude and embarrassing displays in the history of the U.S.. I usually love politics, but right now I’m scared of starting my adult life with either candidate as president. But, oh well.
Sierra, 16 – One of our candidates doesn’t know the definition of equality, nor supports it. It makes me nervous.
Rachel, 15 – Both outcomes don’t sound so fun. What if she lies to us? What if he bullies us?
Sophia, 16 – It seems to be full of drama, almost like high school drama, and whoever wins will impact the world. Whatever happens, happens… but all I see is craziness, madness. What will become of this world?
Syrrina, 17 – I feel absolutely appalled and disgusted to be a bystander to this.

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A version of this article first appeared in the Full Frame blog.

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