One of the best ways to learn is to ask questions.
On Sept. 13, when a group of students from Wilbraham & Monson Academy had the opportunity to meet a former politician who also serves as chairman of one of the most successful magazines in the world, the questions just kept coming.
Fifteen students from the Academy attended last week's Springfield Public Forum, with former Republican Party presidential candidate and current publisher of Forbes magazine Steve Forbes serving as the guest speaker.
"He talked about different policies and political views he holds, such as health care and taxes," said Oron Steingrub '18. "Almost everyone got to ask him a question, and he answered everything. He's a funny guy. He likes to tell jokes. He was pretty critical of President Trump, although he's fairly conservative. He's independently minded."
Prior to the forum, six WMA students and Mr. Jim Irzyk participated in a breakout session with Mr. Forbes, who ran for president in 1996 and 2000.
"He told us all about his presidential campaign in the '90s and how he advocates for a flat tax," Nick Gourley '18 explained. "Mr. Irzyk asked him to give us one piece of advice for the future, and he told us to take risks because we're young and we can afford to. He recommended going to China and teaching English for a year. Even though it's random, he said there's so much you can learn by doing that and it will help us the rest of our life."
After listening to Mr. Forbes for nearly 30 minutes, Oron asked a question regarding options for attending primary and secondary school.
"I asked a question regarding school vouchers, with the idea of having public schools somewhat privatized," Oron said. "Mr. Forbes had been talking about deregulation and privatization, so I asked him what he thought of having a system where parents could choose where they want their child to go with a government-given voucher. They would go for free, like public school, but the schools would be run by private companies so there would be competition and trying to be better than the school next door. He offered support for that. I was surprised given how libertarian he is."
"He mostly talked about current events," Nick added. "It was the politician in him coming out."
At the forum, held at Springfield's Symphony Hall with hundreds of people in the audience, Celina Rivernider '19 and Liam Etti '20 stood up and asked Mr. Forbes questions.
"Our students were very engaged with the event and weren't afraid to speak up," Mr. Irzyk said.