Midterm Elections: Are Ipswich High School Students Aware of Anything?


Cole Shildkraut and Mason J. Webb

If there is anything that is guaranteed to boil the blood of any American, or anyone really, it is politics. It doesn’t matter where you fall or who you plan to vote for, it’s just a sore subject. So, to avoid throwing more salt into our wounds, we decided that we would center our article around awareness, rather than opinion. Keeping this in mind, we set out to try and see if people actually understood what they were mad about.

To achieve this, we interviewed several students and teachers with the intent to gauge their awareness of the midterm elections and to hear about what they had to say on their topic. The seven interview questions we asked were:

Are these midterms important to you and why?
Why do you think these midterms have become such a big deal?
What are your opinions on some of the ballot questions?
Will you be voting?
What issues are most important to you?
Why should other people care?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?

In addition to this, we also created and sent out a survey to the entire senior class to try and sense awareness within this next generation of voters. Out of the one hundred twenty or so odd seniors we received thirty responses, around 25% of the class, which honestly is a pretty good response rate for some random survey. The numbers from the survey were actually a little different than what we expected to see. Sixteen students identified as being eighteen years old and of that sixteen, ten of them said they would be voting. Now although it would have been ideal for the entirety of the class to have responded to the survey, these numbers should be able to give us a fairly good estimate of awareness over the entire class.

We interviewed two members of the senior class, two members of the junior class, and one member of faculty, two girls, two guys, and one Mr. Sealy. Our first interviewee was Evan Antonakes. Evan had some strong feelings and called this a “very critical election”. In response to why these elections, in particular, are so important to him he stressed the importance of electing “people with the right ideas and right motivations”. One of the strongest responses we received from Evan was in regard to Question 3, the notorious “Transgender Bathroom Bill”, in which he felt was, “Disappointing that it even had to be a ballot question”.

Our second interviewee was the wonderful Mackenzie Greenleaf. Mackenzie, despite being 18, won’t be voting this year due to troubles with her voter registration process. Mackenzie also didn’t really know too much about the elections themselves and expressed that, “If it was presidential, I’d be more interested”. She felt that awareness among high schoolers unable to vote was pretty low and those being 18, a little more, but still not very informed on the topic. And although she wasn’t really knowledgeable, she still realized the importance of the situation and felt that it is “important that we increase awareness because not enough people know or are involved”.

We then chose to interview junior class president and overall genuine man Chadwick Keveny. Now like Mackenzie, Chad was rather unaware of the midterm elections but realized that in the grand scheme of it all that these midterms could certainly have a lasting impact. Something that Chad pointed out was that he feels if everyone turned out to vote because it’s mostly older people voting Republican these days and that the more the younger people show up the more likely elections could swing in the democrat’s favor.

After interviewing the junior class president, we decided that we might as well interview the junior class secretary as well, the lovely Ellie O’Donnell. Ellie, just like Evan, had some strong feelings, even going as far to say that, “[These midterms] could change the course of the way I vote in the future and the issues that I will have to deal with later in my adulthood.” When asked her opinion on Question 3, she responded along the lines that voting yes would diminish a lot of progress for allowing transgender people to live how they want, something that she does not want to see. It is also important to add that Ellie, despite being 16, has already registered to vote and encourages all of us to do so as well.

Our final interviewee was none other than the infamous Mr. Sealy. Mr. Sealy displayed a lot of caution around our questions, which is to be expected from someone of his prestigious stature. However, Mr. Sealy felt that, “there is a lot at stake” and that, lots of changes need to be straightened out” in these midterms. He also expressed concerns with the growing divide within this country, sensing that this country could be ready for a new political party. Mr. Sealy ended his interview with optimism, vesting his faith within us, the youth of this country; Ultimately he compared our struggle to that of those who were protesting the Vietnam war an odd half-decade ago, Thanks Mr. Sealy!

So, what can we conclude from this? Well, from the several interviews and one survey that we conducted, I think it is safe to say that we aren’t as clueless as one might think. Only half of the students we interviewed were less than informed on the topics of this election, and even then, those students who were less informed still were able to contribute some intrinsic awareness of the importance of these midterms and still provided excellent well-thought responses to the questions we asked. Looking towards the survey, even though only about 25% of the grade responded and slightly over half of those respondents weren’t registered to vote, a third of all respondents left optimistic-anonymous feedback. All in all, the research we did proves that the next generation of voters aren’t unaware about what’s going on; we merely lack the means to or alternatively lack the will to vote.

If you would to check out the full results of the survey we conducted click: here