Adam M. Middleton
Benjamin Banneker Academic High School
District of Columbia – 1st Place Winner
I’d like to think that there are numerous ideas that the Greater Washington business community can tap and develop from us high school students. Of course, some ideas will be more useful than others. As entertaining as it may be, a gang of McKinley Tech students teaching the lawyers at Bingham McCutchen how to “Dougie” (a popular dance) probably will not make their lives any hipper. All in all, however, the behavior, habits, and ideas of high school students can be very helpful to develop markets in the Greater Washington business community.
You probably don’t know what a G-Shock is. Now, Mr. or Ms. Competition Judge, I am in no way trying to insult your youth culture intelligence, but I’m willing to bet that the type of Casio watches highly popular among high school students is not in your vocabulary. Which is completely fair, as you yourself have some brands that today’s high school teens have never heard of; try to find a sixteen-year-old that wears—or even knows of—Gabardines. And that’s not even a brand, it’s a fabric! Needless to say, judging by that short survey we just took, there are things that high school students know that those of the Greater Washington business community do not.
“Why do you point this out, young man?” you may be asking. Well, imagine you know what a G-Shock is. Let’s go a step further: imagine you know what all the hot high school trends are. You now have the power to invest into a market of very eager spenders with allowances and earnings ready to be squandered! Not only that, you can investigate and analyze trends and begin to interpret, and ultimately predict, the next set of products that “kids these days” will “need.” You see, the Greater Washington business community can practically learn from high school students “what’s hot and what’s not,” then most importantly, “what’s next?”
The only problem with the aforementioned example is that we all know the nature of high school spending is quite fickle: I bought things in my freshman year that have been banished to the depths of my closet, never to be seen ever, ever again. For this we move to Exhibit B: a high school student’s repertoire of basic facts and information.
Despite being amongst the most memorable years of one’s life, sometimes the high school days, and the corresponding curriculum, don’t actually stick. After high school or college, adults begin their lives full of new responsibilities and obligations that augment lifestyles forever, erasing the days of the past. I mean, if a competition called “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” can have some longevity on the tube, “Are You Smarter Than a 10th Grader?” would never have a winner! Meanwhile, high school students immerse themselves in this knowledge every day. It’s part of our everyday. Therefore, the Greater Washington business community can essentially learn things they used to know from those who are learning them currently.
Among the things we are currently learning is the state of the United States economy. Following what some have coined the Great Recession, Americans all across the country are struggling to get back on their feet, many without jobs, others without homes, and in the harshest of cases, absent of both. In a recent article published in The Atlantic, journalist Michael Kinsley blames the Baby Boomers—the majority of the people in control of the Greater Washington business community. “The Boomers ran up huge public and private debts, whose consequences are just beginning to play out. In the world that Boomers will pass along to their children, America is widely held in contempt, prosperity looks … like a mirage, and things are generally going to hell” (Kinsley 64). Ouch. As foreboding and ominous as these words may seem, we have to believe them. Cited later in the article, the national debt is nearly 62 percent of the gross domestic product, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that it will rise to 87 percent in 2020 (Kinsley 67). Yet, from all of these unsightly data, there is reason for hope, as the Greater Washington business community can learn from the minds of tomorrow, today’s high school students, how this country will once again be the dominant global power.
In classrooms all across the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, there are young minds cultivating ideas that will resuscitate not only America, but the entire globe. In 2009, Washington, D.C. had the “the highest salaries of any major U.S. city, with a median household income of $85,198” (Christie). These are salaries of jobs that this generation will occupy in the coming years, and with this wealth we can invest in the best interest of the economy. That means not following today’s trends: “when times are good, investors and consumers get manic. They act like the happy days will never end – borrowing too much, overpaying for real estate and other assets, and taking on more risk than they can handle,” according to Post columnist David Ignatius. We have the courage to make a difference, and understand our President’s creed that “the status quo is morally inexcusable.”
As we all can see, these are critical times. And, perhaps, referencing my earliest example, teaching a few lawyers a popular dance can make their lives better; maybe it can be “very helpful in the careers and overall lives of the Greater Washington business community.”
One of the most valuable things we have as high school students is our youth. Aside from the hours of homework, intellectual discussions, planning for the future—whether just the next four years or forty years, we are all still just kids. And in that, we exude energy and enthusiasm. Spontaneity. Progressiveness. We are free spirits, still molding into the adults we will be for the rest of our lives. Because of this, we indulge in simple pleasures, like Facebook, or late night bike rides through Georgetown, and have not yet really been affected by the obligations of adulthood: we live relatively absent of bills, fees, or expenses. Essentially, high school students have fun, pure unadulterated fun—something the Greater Washington business community may easily forget to do. The business community has proven its industriousness, statistically in earnings, but more obviously in the constant development around the city and surrounding areas. For this it ought to be rewarded; you ought to have a taste of the fun that can only be taught by high school students. So, while we may teach the lessons you once knew yourselves, while we may wear flashy watches for months before giving in to something new—a product you potentially anticipated, while we may hold the keys to a more stable economy, most importantly, we hold our youth and the benefits it brings. Now, put on your dancing shoes, I’ve got some new moves I’d like to teach.
Christie, Les. "D.C. Workers Have America's Highest Salaries." CNNMoney. CNN, 28 Sept. 2010. Web. 28 Sept. 2010.http://money.cnn.com/2010/09/28/pf/household_income_report/index.htm.
Ignatius, David. "A Glimmer of Hope for the Economy." Washington Post. Washington Post, 26 Sept. 2010. Web. 28 Sept. 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/09/24/AR2010092402381.html.
Kinsley, Michael. "The Least We Can Do." The Atlantic Oct. 2010: 62-72. Print.