Students learn from vice presidential rallyHaving the vice president of the United States stop in Superior was more than a historic moment. It was a teachable one.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Having the vice president of the United States stop in Superior was more than a historic moment. It was a teachable one.
For the youngest members of the press corps at Vice President Joe Biden’s speech Friday, the Superior Middle School became their classroom.
“I was a little iffy about it because I don’t really like politics like at all,” said Olivia Burbul, one of nine teens who reported on the event for Superior High School’s student newspaper, the Spartan Spin. “But this was like a really big thing. And to hear the people and hear how they feel so strongly about it and hearing different things from everyone, it makes it a lot more important.
“It’s definitely an eye-opener.”
Burbul and photographer Morgan Peterson garnered media passes to join the press corps.
“It was kind of intimidating because we had no idea what we were doing and we were kind of like the underdogs here, super underdogs and people asking Morgan if she’s national or local ...” Burbul said.
“We were like, ‘we’re super local,’” Peterson said.
The other Spartan Spin students spread out into the crowd. From his spot on the middle school stage, their teacher Andy Wolfe watched them go to work.
“I am so proud of these kids, I really am,” he said. At one point as Burbul ran past on her way to an interview, he saw her as a reporter, not a student.
“It was cool at this moment seeing these kids have the freedom that they deserve,” he said.
Meanwhile, Peterson snapped pictures beside local and national media photographers.
“This validates us as a real news source,” Wolfe said.
And Kasey Kujawa, 18, snagged an interview with Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, before he spoke to the crowd.
“One of the things that we teach them is to get there ahead of the event, to stay afterwards and you’ll get some of the best stories,” Wolfe said.
Many of the students were less than enthusiastic when they headed to the middle school Friday.
“At first I was like, tired and I really had to pee and then once I actually was there and I was talking to people and stuff, it became like a lot more important,” Kujawa said.
“It definitely did,” said Dani Hakkila, 17. “When we were in line it was kind of like ‘I don’t want to be here — it’s super cold.’ And then when we got in there and you got through the check it was like ‘Oh my God,’ this was a big deal.”
Some students dealt with grumpy crowd members who stood in line waiting for the doors to open, than stood for more than three hours inside.
“A lot of people did not like that you came in front of them because I had so many people just upset with me,” said Savannah Berthiaume, 15, who was trying to position herself to take pictures. “They said ‘I don’t care who you are, get back there.’”
Kujawa said a woman next to him was initially angry, but after they started talking, that changed.
“… she talked for a really long time to me about her being an activist and you know and all of her opinions and views and stuff and we just started chatting,” the high school senior said. He offered to switch spots with her so she could get a better view. “And at the end she was like ‘It was really nice to meet you.’”
Spin photographer Cole Johnson, who was stationed nearby, said hearing the woman talk made him realize how closely people can connect politics to their own lives.
“Going to the rally kind of gave me a little more insight on the side of it; gave me a little bit more things to look at,” Johnson said. “And then I kind of followed up over the weekend, who I really want to vote for and like whether it’s Obama or Romney.”
Talking with members of the crowd impressed upon students how important the event was for others. Burbul said she met a girl who had been waiting in line since 8:15 a.m. One of the ladies near Hakkila got to see Kennedy come through the area.
“She was talking about how this was her, she called it her last chance thing for something this big,” Hakkila said.
The teens said covering the event left quite an impression.
“It was definitely, like, an experience I’ll never forget,” Burbul said.
“It was a huge privilege too,” Peterson said. “Like Mr. Wolfe said, the Spartan Spin has never covered something this huge. So that was, to have back stage access, to be like, actually in it with the media was really, really cool.”
With the rally done, students packed up and headed home.
“Once I left, I felt like I was actually holding my head higher,” Kujawa said. As he put his recorder and camera in their case at Wide World of Wings restaurant, “I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m official.’ It was cool.”