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.

Related Tags:

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

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Federal Who Is Miguel Cardona? Education Secretary Pick Has Roots in Classroom, Principal's Office
Many who've worked with Joe Biden's pick for education secretary say he's ready for what would be a giant step up.
15 min read
Miguel Cardona, first-time teacher, in his fourth-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Ct. in August of 1998.
Miguel Cardona, chosen to lead the U.S. Department of Education, photographed in his 4th-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Conn., in 1998.
Courtesy of the Record-Journal
Federal Obama Education Staff Involved in Race to the Top, Civil Rights Join Biden's White House
Both Catherine Lhamon and Carmel Martin will serve on President-elect Joe Biden's Domestic Policy Council.
4 min read
Federal Opinion What Conservatives Should Be for When It Comes to Education
Education is ultimately about opportunity, community, and empowerment, and nothing should resonate more deeply with the conservative heart.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Opinion What the Assault on the Capitol Means for Educators
Last week's assault on the seat of the American government points to a larger civic challenge that we must address together.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty