Many Augusta area high school students not closely watching GOP presidential nomination race

Evans High School Teen Age Republicans meet former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Jan. 17 after the GOP presidential candidate forum at University of South Carolina Aiken. Standing with Gingrich are students Kristen Boykin (from left); Jaron Hasty; Austen Trowell, the chairman of Teen Age Republicans; Gingrich's wife, Callista; Caroline Culbreth, the student club's vice chairwoman; and Justin Rectenwald.



EDITOR’S NOTE: Anastasia Whitehouse, a senior at Lakeside High School, is one of two reporters in the first class of The Augusta Chronicle’s High School Reporters Academy, a 12-week program designed to give high school students a taste of what it is like to work as a journalist.


Area high school students, even those who will be able to vote this year, haven’t been as caught up in the race for the Republican presidential nomination as some adults.

Even when former House Speak­er Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary Jan. 21, many students didn’t watch on television or follow it on the Internet.

Still, several students have made up their minds about who they would like to see come out on top in Novem­ber.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul is popular, and Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have their youthful supporters. Students who were asked about the GOP contest didn’t mention former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Chris Powers, the faculty sponsor for Evans High School’s Teen Age Repub­li­cans, said most of the students in the program are enthusiastic about the election.

“We played a big role at the presidential forum at USC Aiken on Jan. 17. Gingrich was the only major candidate at the event. The group met him and felt like he paid special attention to them,” Powers said in an e-mail.

Naomi Yates, 18, of Aquinas High School, gives tepid support to Romney even though she doesn’t agree with all of his views. She said she can see him doing a better job “directing the country into recovery from the recession more than President Obama has in the past four years.”

Reflecting his national popularity among younger voters, Paul seems to draw support from high school students. Evan Phillips, 18, a Lakeside High School senior who has been closely watching the race, said he would put his support behind Paul.

“If Paul were the nominee,” Phillips said, “the Repub­licans would truly receive the small government they have been asking for, but I’m not too sure they would be happy in all of its facets, including but not limited to a reduction in the military and the legalization of drugs along with laissez-faire economics.”

A number of students did not have an opinion regarding the election. Some said they had not been paying attention.

“I don’t have any clue about any of the candidates,” said Richard Rees, 18, of Green­brier High School. “It’s not that I don’t care; I should probably just pay more attention.”