Sanchez students are the real winners from that town hall blowout

Chris Barnett read that room. He watched as the governor spoke in generalities and flower pots over the boos from hundreds of students tired of being told the same thing without seeing results. He saw the political opportunity. There was no way he was going to leave that room without distancing himself from the rest. He went for the kill. And the rest now is history.

We’ve been so focused on the political capital Lou Leon Guerrero lost at that Wednesday night town hall, that we’ve neglected to see that there is a clear winner in it all. And it isn’t Mr. Barnett. It’s the students, alumni, and future students of Simon Sanchez High School.

After those theatrics, that school is going to be built in haste. Joshua Tenorio has two years to the gubernatorial election to use all his political might as lieutenant governor to place that development on the fast track. Every senator is going to push every which way he and she can to not end up like Ms. Leon Guerrero did that night.

None of that would have happened had those students not pressed this issue. Mr. Barnett’s fiery speech would not have been worth the watch had those students not cheered his every word.

To the politicians, who make things happen or keep things from priority, those students represent thousands of voters in Yigo and Dededo who they cannot afford to piss off. Well, they’re pissed now. And the thing is, they’ve inspired the rest of us who have no direct stake in SSHS, to be pissed for them.

The politicians – including Mr. Barnett – have a tall order in front of them. The students’ cheers to Barnett’s words woke the issue of rebuilding Sanchez High into a political priority. But those were just words. Those students, and now the rest of us, are going to be demanding action.

And if we don’t see results soon, there’s no excuse he, she, or any other politician can give us that will assuage our collective appetite for progress. Those students have restored my hope that people – no matter how poor or politically detached they are – can arrest their government and force it to work for us. I love every bit of what happened, and I thank those SSHS students for making me a believer again in the power of the people.

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