Special Feature



THS English teacher Amanda Weatherwax posed the following question to her Honors English I students:  What is the single most important question that a high school student can ask?  Here are some of their responses.

Single Most Important Question 


I go to school with roughly 1,000 other students.  I only truly know 1 or 2 of them.  On a typical day at school I will talk to somewhere between 100-200 of them, another 100-200 I’ve had interactions with at some point in my schooling, another 100-200 of them I know a couple of things about them, or at least I think I do.  The rest of them I don’t know at all.

Every single person in that building has their story, just as I have mine.  I’ll use someone as an example, let’s call this person Andy. For the longest time I “knew” Andy from seeing them in the hall and on instagram.  Andy always seemed to be the happiest person, the most popular, good looking, put together person.  That’s the funny thing about social media is people only post when they’re happy, or pictures to make it look like they are and they are always having an amazing time.  Seeing Andy look like they had the perfect life always with friends and having fun.   I then got to know them through some other friends, when I say get to know them I mean talking on a surface level. I didn’t know a lot about them and they didn’t know a lot about me.  As I continued to get to know them I started to realize this person wasn’t as happy as they seemed in the halls and in class.  Here I was thinking this person had everything in life so easy and amazing, they didn’t.  I still don’t know anything close to a lot about them but I know enough to know that their outside perfect isn’t the same representation as their inside feelings.  

If we compare people to books, which in my opinion is very accurate.  This person’s cover was a piece of perfect artwork, I read the inside cover and this person was still seemingly perfect but once you read a little bit I start to understand I actually know nothing about this person.   I judged this person for good or for bad based on their cover.  

Another example that I’d like to use is a close friend.  When I was in 5th and 6th grade I used to be so scared of her, I thought she was so intimidating and that she down right hated me.  After a few classes together I started to read her book and get to know her.  We became fast friends and she is someone now that I’ve come to love and appreciate as a part of my life.  Her cover and prologue I read and judged were nothing like her book.  Granted I haven’t read anywhere close to all of her book there is a lot I don’t know about her.   

My point is people think that we know others and we don’t.  We only know their cover, the people we pass in the hall or see around in class.  We know some people’s cover and inside summary, which are the people we know on the surface.  Others we know a lot of their story and can be considered close friends, and the select few we may know most of their book.  I can only say with confidence I know one person’s whole book and a few others most of their book. 

The rest of these people I don’t know what plot twists are in their book.  I can walk by anyone on any given day and they are going through something and I would have no idea because everyone has a chapter that they don’t read aloud.  

The most important question someone can ask is “How are you doing?”  Since starting high school I’ve made it a habit to ask these questions of people I greet throughout the day.  No matter how much of someone’s story I know asking “How are you today?” has solicited some interesting responses.  Sometimes people will tell me they are not having a great day or that they are having an amazing day.  I have come to realize that asking that simple question can let people know that you are there for them if there’s good or bad things going on because everyone has things in their story most people don’t know. Showing someone that you care enough to ask how they are in my opinion can show them that you care.  Sometimes that is all someone needs is someone to listen about their successes or failure or just to know that someone else cares how they are doing that day.   

It’s important to ask that question and actually listen for a response so often we ask that question without actually meaning it or waiting for a response.  

My goal is to ask more questions and to judge less, the more I ask how people are, the less I am able to judge and criticize.  In conclusion the single most important question you can ask is “How are you doing today?” because you will never know until you ask, and if you don’t know you can’t judge or criticize.  


The Single Most Important Question

By L.E.

High schoolers are always bombarded with questions about what they are going to accomplish in the future and how they are going to do that. We are constantly being asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “Where are you going to college?”. One question that we are not asked as often though is “What issue do you think is most pressing to you and the people you care about?”. As young adults we are not getting a voice in matters that directly affect our lives and the lives of people we care about. In a way we are taken out of consideration when adults think about the future and what it may bring. So, I think that the most important question that we can ask is, “How do we make our voice heard?”

People of all ages, including high schoolers, have a large variety of topics that they care about. If highschool-age people were given the chance to have an opinion on detrimental topics then there would be so much more information available. There would be a heightening of topics in the media that would talk about things such as hunger, poverty, racial rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and so many others. In turn, this would cause a butterfly effect towards more solutions to arise due to the publicity of the conversation, all because adults and other people took us seriously. 

Going back to the question of, “How do we make our voice heard?”, I think that in a way we would have to force our ideas and opinions into the arguments and show people that we can make educated responses. The younger generation is always seen as weaker in important decisions until they show that they can have educated conversations. I talked with my parents, who were born in the 70’s, about how they were seen as a society. They said that it was the same for them back when they were children, in the way that they were not seen seriously until they were adults.

So that brings us to the question of how do we make our voices heard now. I believe that in order to make progress in the media with our generation we just have to keep pushing. We will have to keep making educated statements about topics that we care about, and present ourselves and our generation in a “good light” because, as many of you have probably noticed, we are not taken seriously. To older generations we are seen as a bunch of lazy children that do nothing more than dance on TikTok, when in reality most of us are educated people with informed ideas that could change the world as we see it today.

Therefore, I believe that we can find our place in this rapidly changing society by; openly making educated statements, showing that we know what we are talking about, and creating change in the societies that we live in. All three of these will change how society views us as a generation. 


News Flash: There Isn’t One 

By A.F.

I believe that there isn’t just one most important question. How could your entire teenage life be summed up into one singular question. Your teen years are about growing and questions and questioning everything in your life is really, the most important part. As a teen you question who you are, who you want to be, the choices you want to make and what the best choices would be. You can question the simple things such as do I want to get up and be productive or lay in bed for another hour. All of these choices and all of these questions all lead up to something big which is, adulthood. I believe that in this time of learning the more questions you ask the better prepared and the better off you are. If you narrow this huge window of questions down to one little question it’s like all of the rest of the questions are not as important, and that is just not so. 

Teens are growing and expanding their knowledge and their brain every single day. Every day they wake up and make the active choice to learn, grow and make good decisions. During your teen years you learn and grow in many ways. You make mistakes, you learn from them. You learn how you react to certain things and how to manage your emotions and relationships. You also develop knowledge, skill and acquire certain attributes and abilities. During your teenage years if you didn’t ask questions then you wouldn’t grow, you wouldn’t learn skills, you wouldn’t learn how to manage emotions or relationships. If you didn’t expand your knowledge then you wouldn’t be prepared for what’s coming next. By asking many questions that is how you expand your knowledge. If you narrowed it all down to what is THE most important question a teen could ask, there wouldn’t be one because they are all equally important to you and your future. 

Along your teenage years being filled with knowledge, it is all a very scary time. Being a teen is preparing you to take the biggest leap of your life into the adult world. That huge leap and the thought process that comes along with it is all very scary so teens are going to ask questions.  From questions about growing up, what to do, the best choices to make now to help you in the future are all in their brain and not one is bigger or more important than the other. If teens didn’t ask themselves each and every question there (plus thousands more) then their nerves wouldn’t be calmed and they wouldn’t be as prepared and ready for the adult world as they should be. If you narrowed this scary time to say that only one of those millions of questions was the most important, there wouldn’t be one to choose from. How are you going to say that in a scary time like this if you ask this single most important question that it will be fine and prepared for the scariest leap of anyone’s life. 

In conclusion, to say that there is just one singular question that is more important than any of the others is just insane. There is not one question that will prepare them for the adult world, give them the knowledge and experience they need or calm their nerves and their active minds. There isn’t one question that just totally out does the rest of the millions of questions that teens will ask. All of the many questions they ask are all important and lead them up to who they are, who they want to be, and where and what is going to prepare them the most. That is why there isn’t just one more important question a teen can ask. The answer is that there are so many that all lead up to something so important. 


The Most Important Question

By M.F.

The most important question that a young person could ask is “How can I change the world”. At this age when you can’t even vote, it’s hard to be passively affecting the world around you, but it’s still very possible if you stick your neck out. Whether it’s through activism or just awareness, with the right motives and dedication, it only takes a single person. This is a young Gandhi seeing how the lower castes suffered. This is a Greta Thunberg quietly protesting in the streets of Denmark. When people see a movement in the right direction, some of them will inevitably join themselves. These movements, starting with a single, passionate person are what make change happen in the world, and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been alive.

Throughout history we have seen this happening; from a man being crucified in ancient Rome to the march on Washington, it really does take a single person to start something larger. As an individual in the United States, anyone has the right to speak out about a cause that they care about, and the only thing stopping you from going outside with a picket now is the plague (yay). Despite the current circumstances, online activism is still possible because of the high visibility. In fact, now is a prime example of when to make change happen. The pandemic has quickly revealed that the vast majority of the rich white men who run this country truly care more about money than human lives (looking at the blatant disregard by the president and the daily new examples). Without going on a tangent about that, change is also supplemented by a time of turmoil, so even if you’re trapped inside you can speak out.

You don’t necessarily have to start a movement yourself. When you see pictures of the Washington Monument completely surrounded by a massive sea of people, it’s easy to think of them as a singular thing, but that same sea of people is made of thousands of individuals. Each and every one of them made the conscious decision to get up and express their opinion even though it was dangerous. Without individual human beings, massive movements like these don’t exist. If you are dedicated to help change an issue that you see in the world, there is quite possibly a group of like-minded people who also want the same thing. All you have to do is get up and become a part of that sea.

This isn’t restricted to activism or protesting though, as what you can do to change the world doesn’t necessarily have to be so active. Through daily actions like staying home or teachers educating the next generation, hundreds of lives are being affected. Some change is more gradual, and that’s okay too. If everyone started recycling, which only takes a few seconds out of the average person’s day, there would be a noticeable impact. With people being stuck inside now, pollution levels have dropped drastically, and it’s amazing to see the extent that things like that were normalized. For the first time since World War Two, India can see Mount Everest from 125 miles away. The canals of Venice are running clear and are no longer choked with waste. If people took small steps in their daily lives, these changes could stay. It can be as simple as not dropping your trash into a canal or having corporations reevaluate their carbon emissions. 

This question is especially important for young people, who will continue into the future and bring in another generation, but people of all ages should also be asking how they can make change happen. Asking yourself this isn’t a difficult thing to do, but with even a small effort you can start making a change. If everyone were to stop worrying about whether the stock market will recover quickly or whether they need to hoard toilet paper, and focus on making the world a better place, it really would be a positive effect. In the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”


What is the Most Important Question a High Schooler Can Ask?

By I.H.

Comparing. We spend our entire high school careers comparing. Our grades, our looks, our work, each other. The schooling system has turned our learning experience into a competition instead of a place to prepare for life ahead. However, is preparing us for the world really what they’re doing? The real world is an unforgiving place; a place where you work until the day you die just to keep the lights on and food on the table. In high school, most of the students only care about what clothes they wear or how their hair looks. You tell me if those sound anything alike. 

Knowing basic life skills is a vital role in being part of a functioning society. However, I bet if you asked most of the students in this high school, they couldn’t tell you how to pay taxes, build credit, apply for a loan, or even manage money properly. I bet they could tell you the quadratic formula or what different types of galaxies there are. Of course, that information could be important for someone going into a science or a math major, but when you put that information on the scale of life skills, it isn’t vital. As students, we no longer feel the curiosity effect that learning may have had in the past. We are suffocated by a stiff curriculum that lacks flexibility or explanation. We are shown that to properly succeed we must see, memorize, and forget. Weeks are spent teaching concepts that are forgotten seconds after finishing a test. Teachers have good intentions. They’re here to teach, enlighten. However, when students are being taught what they see as “stupid,” they won’t see the real meaning, which is an idea that schools today have a difficult time grasping. 

Given that information, the most important question a high schooler can ask is “what should my expectations of the ‘real world’ be?” This is a question the education system has failed to answer. The answer may only truly lie within the students but they need guidance. High school is a pivotal time in a teen’s life, finding where they socially belong and becoming the person they’ll be for the rest of their lives. It’s full of new experiences and people. All of which will never tell you how the real world will treat you. I don’t mean the world of jobs or money, I mean the world of friendships, relationships, people in general. This world will knock you off your feet and onto the ground and demand you to get back up and keep going. There’s no time to stop, no time to reconsider, because if you stop, you will get left behind. That’s what they don’t tell you and that’s what ends up defeating us all in the end. At the end of the day, all you have is you. Sure, you have family and friends to help you through the tough times, but when you’re laying in bed trying to go to sleep, it’s just you and your choices and your thoughts. No amount of school, life lessons or tests can prepare you for the biggest test of your life, the world and finding a way to fit into it and all of its hardships.