(This is a guest post by
On January 30, Bay Area students joined KQED staff for a State of the Union Address Break-a-Thon at the San Francisco Library’s The Mix. Students fact-checked, played SoTU Bingo and created Flipgrid video responses while watching and critically responding to the speech.
The Break-a-Thon was one of seven national events around the State of the Union address in partnership with The Lamp and the 22×20 Campaign, a national campaign to activate and facilitate youth voice and leadership in the democratic process. The initiative aims to strengthen civic skills and restore trust among teens, 22 million of whom will be eligible to vote by 2020.
Students like 17-year-old Faith M., a senior at El Cerrito High School who attended the event.
“It really made you pay attention to the issues he was talking about.”
She said that being around other teens made the experience engaging, despite her opposing stance to many policies of the Trump Administration.
“I liked being around like-minded people, but just watching the speech was a little hard because he talked about issues that I didn’t agree with.”
When staff facilitators paused the speech to allow for discussion, other student attendees chimed in with candid responses to the president’s remarks. Some called out inaccuracies based on their fact-checking.
“This felt like a waste of time,” one student said at the end of the speech, noting the inaccuracies and misleading statements.
This sparked a discussion on the importance of paying attention to national events like the State of the Union Address even when what’s said doesn’t align with personal politics.
Overall the event, which sought to spur interest in national events like the State of the Union Address, most certainly inspired more critical thinking for students like Faith, who says that she will stay engaged moving forward.
“I’ll stay aware of what’s going on. I kind of have to because these issues are going to affect me. Some of them already do.”