The elections are all wrapped up, but U.S. Congressman Jim Himes is making sure local kids don't lose interest in politics just because the ads aren't running anymore.
Monday morning, Himes spent roughly an hour-and-a-half speaking with teenage students from the King Low Heywood Thomas private school about everything from the joys of debate to environmental issues the country is facing.
"Anytime I'm asked to do this, I jump at the opportunity," Himes said after the forum. "It's such a great way to start the week. Young people are curious, they're not yet cynical and they're high energy."
Himes said students today need someone to be straight with them—to be upfront and clear when they talk about politics and the issues facing America— because they are the ones who will pickup where the last generation left off.
"It's an important time. People are concerned about their government," he said. "They need to hear a message about why the government is the way it is. I have an eighth grader at home, it's not an easy [message to convey.] There's more than just a generational distance between us. But they keep it exciting."
It was a consensus among the students polled following the forum that perhaps every generation thinks the issues they face are more grave than the previous, but it does not discredit the importance of the fact that they do face issues and, at some point, will become responsible for them.
"I think I take a strong interest now because, all through our early years, everything was growing and it was good," said Gigi Boehringer, 16, who talked with Himes before the forum on her interest in the possibility of joining the Naval Academy. "We started getting more mature and suddenly there was this drop off. Our parents are discussing new issues at the table we'd never heard them talk about before. I think we were thrown into it more suddenly than previous generations."
Matthew Cloutier, 18, and co-president of the Project Vote Smart political club on campus agreed with the sentiment that every generation probably thinks the issues are more important than the issues that came before them, but thinks opportunities for students to speak with a real person about the issues helps generate interest from the less-informed.
"It's nice to get some clarity about what's happening in Congress," Cloutier said. "I'm hopeful my generation will see us move past the fiscal cliff and work to resolve the deficit so we can focus on more important issues, particularly environmental issues...The issues today are so multidimensional, it's an interesting time in the world and we all need to be informed to make the right choice."
Himes was optimistic about the drive of the students to involve themselves and attempt to get their friends involved in politics and world issues. To attempt to understand and be involved in any way at all was something Himes appreciated because eventually, the floor would be theirs.
"[Governmental decisions] don't naturally happen, they happen because of carefully plotted and argued plans leading to decisions," Himes said. "And the decisions we make impact the next generation. They, ultimately, are the ones left as either the beneficiaries or holding the bag after we're long gone."
Project Vote Smart co-president Spencer Blair, 17, echoed that sentiment, saying he understood the situations the country faces on it's horizon become situations the current generations of teens will need to be prepared to handle.
"The bottom line is we have old or middle-aged politicians making decisions that our generation will inherit, environmental issues will especially be our problem," Blair said. "We don't have as much say now, at our age, as someone as interested as I am would like. We shouldn't be thrust into a scenario like that without knowing anything. Every generation should be informed."