Students at City Honors School in Buffalo had the opportunity to hear Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speak last Thursday. Cuomo has made similar visits to high schools across the state to discuss his plan for New York that he has titled “New York Rising.”
The visit came as a surprise to students who had been working frivolously on the talent show that was to take place that Thursday night and the school musical that was just a couple of weeks away. Keeping the details a secret, Principal William Kresse attempted to surprise students with the visit, giving no real reason for why neither the talent show nor the musical could use the auditorium the day before.
Students in grades seven through 12 attended the assembly. Cuomo discussed budgeting and a number of issues he plans on tackling this term, including education, women’s rights and gun control.
“I felt like the whole thing was an effort to win over a young voting body who will be engaged in the next election,” said junior Simon Jackson-Forsberg.
This line of thought seemed to be most popular following the address.
Students went the rest of the day discussing whether or not Cuomo might take a stab at the presidency in 2016, which for many of them would be their first voting-age election.
Feelings on the address itself were mixed.
“He was more daring than I expected he would be,” said senior Matthew Lippman.
Many students were impressed by the governor’s willingness to discuss controversial topics. He discussed gun control, firmly asserting his position. He discussed a longer school year despite the fact that his audience was at least 50 percent schoolchildren. He also didn’t shy away from marriage equality the way so many politicians do, rather than just saying “sexual preference” or “orientation,” the governor was comfortable and confident using the word “gay.”
Others felt the governor was too political or that his plan was misguided.
“He said he wouldn’t raise taxes but would somehow find the money for a longer school day and school year, new duty-free stores, a higher minimum wage and so on. He never said where that money was going to come from,” said senior Adam Cordaro.
Cuomo spoke at length about casinos in New York State, regarding them as a sort of savior to upstate New York.
Senior Conor Stillwell reflected on this, saying, “Cuomo’s plan to bring tourists to upstate New York through the expansion of casinos seems at best shortsighted and at worst a serious threat to an already weak economy.”
Senior Alyssa Cardina summed up these conflicting feelings: “Cuomo presented many forward-thinking proposals that seemed nothing but positive, but he lacked details pertaining to getting things done, including where all the money required is coming from.”
Politics aside, students appreciated the opportunity to hear the governor speak, and if Cuomo’s plan was to engage young people in politics, he succeeded to some extent.
Anna Hyzy is a senior at City Honors.