Archive for Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Survey reflects new grads’ thoughts

May 26, 2004

If Tonganoxie's Class of 2004 were voting for president now, Democrat John Kerry narrowly would beat President Bush.

But independent candidate Ralph Nader would capture 17 percent of the vote.

According to a survey of 94 members of the THS senior class taken in April, Kerry would earn 39 votes, gaining approval from nearly 42 percent of the seniors. That compares with the president's 32 supporters, which represent 34 percent of the vote. About 7 percent of the seniors did not provide a response.

The new graduates of Tonganoxie High are slightly more liberal than conservative, they said, with 49 percent reporting they were liberal, and 47 percent saying they were conservative. A total of 26 percent said they were Republicans, 32 percent were Democrats, and 40 percent were independent.

Politics was just one of 33 questions posed to members of the 2004 senior class by The Mirror newspaper. A total of 94 seniors -- 47 males and 47 females -- participated in the written survey, which was voluntary and anonymous.

In response to another question, 29 percent of seniors said they strongly agreed with the U.S. decision to attack Iraq. That compares with 51 percent of seniors who responded they strongly agreed with the U.S. action, as part of a similar survey conducted in 2003.

This is the second consecutive year The Mirror has surveyed the THS senior class, in cooperation with the high school.

In today's edition is the first part of a two-part series of stories based on students' responses.

The survey centered on politics, the students' thoughts about their education and social issues that face them.

According to survey respondents, about 20 percent of seniors considered bullying at school a problem.

Only 3 percent answered it was a very serious problem, while 17 percent said it was a somewhat serious problem. A total of 44 percent answer it wasn't very serious, and another 35 percent said it was not serious at all.

Religion is important to students, with 19 percent saying it is very important and 52 percent saying it was fairly important.

About half the senior class plans to attend a four-year college, and more than half -- about 72 percent -- gave their high school education an A or a B.

The students generally thought their class sizes were just about right. Homework took up fewer than five hours a week for most seniors in their final year of high school.

And Internet access continues to run high among the new graduates' families -- at about 85 percent.

But only about 17 percent of respondents reported spending more than an hour online each day.

Here are some other quick looks at the survey responses:

  • About 43 percent said alcohol abuse either wasn't much of a problem or was not a problem at their school.
  • Drug abuse, in the students' views, is slightly more of a problem. A total of 11 percent said it was a serious problem, and 60 percent said it was somewhat of a problem.
  • Most students plan to flee their hometown -- only 25 percent plan to stick around now that they're out of high school. A total of 75 percent of them think they'll be better off financially than their parents. And 60 percent are more worried about the economy than the threat of terrorism. Incidentally, that's about the same response as was given by the Class of 2003.
  • About 45 percent consider themselves sexually active. A total of 71 percent say they never use marijuana, while 40 percent say they never use alcohol. Concerning alcohol, another 30 percent said they drank once or more a week, but not daily; 1 percent said they drank daily; and 27 percent said they drank once or more a month, but not weekly.

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