Originally created 09/12/98

Students voice their opinions on Clinton scandal in schools



Lakeside High School was no different than the rest of the nation Friday.

Students in several history and government classes spent part of their classtime discussing the controversy surrounding President Clinton and what it means for country.

And they wanted to talk about it.

When teacher Marsie Anderson proposed the discussion to her U.S. history advanced placement students, some actually clapped and almost all of them had opinions on the issue.

Ms. Anderson and the junior students knew that this presidential investigation would be different than others in the past, especially with Internet access to Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's report.

"More of the public is going to be involved in it because they're going to know more about it," 16-year-old Cameron Ericson said.

Lakeside High Principal Julius McAnally said several teachers had focused class discussions on the impeachment process, how it works and what could happen next for Mr. Clinton. Mr. McAnally said while he remembers Watergate, his students have never been through a presidential scandal such as this one.

At Columbia Middle School, Principal Donna Anderson said, one eighth-grade teacher had students do a journal assignment recently on whether the president was right or wrong.

At Lakeside, students had various opinions on that note.

"I don't think he should be impeached because everybody makes mistakes," Kunjal Shah, 16, said. "It's not like he did something right on the public ... it was his personal life."

But others said the focus should be on the fact that the president is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice, and that as the country's leader, his personal life spills into his public life.

"It's not like a little mistake," Rob Bohler, 16, said.

Still, the majority of Ms. Anderson's class felt the president should not be impeached. Out of 23 students, only nine voted for impeachment in an impromptu poll.

"I don't feel like he's done that bad of a job," said Arika Cohen, 15. "...I just wish this whole thing had never happened."

Meanwhile, in Aiken County classrooms, reading, writing and arithmetic continued, with little mention of the White House crisis.

The Starr report received little attention in political science classes on the University of South Carolina Aiken campus, where several professors said they have better things to talk about.

But there is talk of having a "teach-in" in recent weeks, where the president, Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment process would be discussed.

"The amount of ignorance out there is vast and wide," said political science professor Robert Botsch.