Conservative teens meet in Washington
By Alison Lapp
WASHINGTON (July 8) – If a classmate makes fun of their conservative beliefs again, two Raleigh-area high school students don’t plan on getting upset – they plan on proving their views are right.
Marissa Farrell, who just completed her junior year at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, and Sarah Palmer, a recent graduate of Apex High School, said they’ve been learning that and other lessons at the Eighth Annual Young America’s Foundation High School Leadership Conference, which started Thursday.
The foundation, which works to advance conservative thought on high school and college campuses, has brought 120 high school students from around the country to the nation’s capital for four days of speakers and excursions based around the theme of reaffirming conservative values in America’s youth.
“The Wake County public school system has a lot of liberal bias, and I’m quite sick of it,” Palmer said. “Here, I don’t feel alone for having conservative values, and I’m gaining information to help fight back against liberal ideas.”
Palmer said she often felt like an outsider in high school classrooms where the majority of students were liberal.
“Because of the 2004 elections, politics were huge last year, especially in history,” she said. “We would have discussions in class and it got really bad, to the point where people were making fun of me. I had to go home and write papers on issues because nobody would listen any other way.”
At the conference, Palmer said, she feels at home among other conservative youths.
“There are slight disagreements among conservatives, but we’re building each other up and learning from each other,” she said. “Even when we don’t agree, we actually listen to one another.”
Palmer and Farrell said they arrived at their conservative beliefs by listening to their parents and their faith.
“I looked at both sides of issues, but I’m a Catholic, and that’s a huge part of my life,” Farrell said. “My religious values and my conservative values are basically the same.”
The girls said they appreciate the conference because it is giving them ways to turn their beliefs into action. Speakers have suggested bringing prominent conservatives to campus, starting conservative newspapers and joining clubs like the Young Republicans, they said.
Conference events include addresses by Sen. George Allen, R-Va., and conservative talk show host Kirby Wilbur, and a tour of the National Rifle Association Museum.
Palmer and Farrell did not know one another before meeting at the conference, but they say they plan to keep in touch after returning to North Carolina.
“We’ll meet up with each other when we need to get some sanity in our lives,” Farrell said.
© Alison Lapp