They may not be able to vote, but the pack of presidential candidates might be surprised at how opinionated they are.
Children and teens in the Storm Lake schools are forming their opinions on who to support in the 2008 presidential election.
Visits to the Storm Lake schools this week underscore how focused the students are.
Jay Linn Kwikkel, a high school senior, said the best candidate will be someone who offers funding for education. "That's huge," she said. She plans to pursue a career in the medical field when she is done with high school so it is also important to her that the next president look into the medical issues as well. and Evelyn Castro, both seniors, will be old enough to vote in next year's election.
She said that her parents, school administrators Dave Kwikkel (Schaller-Crestland superintendent) and Juli Kwikkel (Storm Lake elementary principal) are Republicans. "I will vote for whoever my parents are voting for," she said. "I don't like Hillary (Clinton) at all."
Fellow senior Evelyn Castro will also be old enough to vote for the first time. At this point she said she sees a lot of good qualities in Barack Obama. She also is concerned with candidates' stand on education and health issues.
At the middle school level, three of the four students that talked with the Pilot-Tribune felt Obama would be the best candidate and another said she liked what Bill Richardson had to offer.
They all agreed that the campaign ads are frustrating.
"They are annoying but I do understand that they're there to help the people decide who to vote for," said Cecily Rhode, eighth grade, the Richardson supporter.
"We need someone who knows how to run a business or who has been a governor," said Jack Hartnett.
Ethan Kenkel, also an eighth grader, is wary of Clinton. "I don't think she would follow up on what she says she would do," he said.
And besides, said Amer Damanhoury, a fifth grader, "we've already had Bill Clinton and that's enough."
Rhode said she believes that the country is ready for a woman to be president - but not Hillary.
"I've got a lot of respect for her trying to be president but I don't think she is a good enough person to be the first lady president." She and the other students agreed that "men handle pressure better than women."
The boys, impressed with Obama, said they would like to see him in office as the first African American.
"I don't think our country sees colors anymore," said Kenkel.
The middle schoolers said they don't like seeing the fighting back and forth between the candidates.
"That's stupid," said Rhode. "They should be telling us what they're going to do for the county and not be disrespectful to each other."
The job of the president is stressful, they added, and there are people that would like you and people that wouldn't like you.
"But, that's life," said Rhode. "It's like that in the middle school, too."
"You can't trap people into liking you," added Damanhoury, though the candidates like to make promises to get voters and not keep them.
The four students said they are happy with the manner in which the country operates under and agreed that more should be done for the people in the United States instead of sending so much money to other countries. The homeless in the U.S. is an issue that Rhode said needs to be addressed.
When the issue of President Bush arose, Kenkel said, "I think Bush has done a good job with what was handed to him when he came into office."
Elementary students Blaize Koster, third grade, and Sami Damanhoury, second grade, had many opinions about the upcoming election.
"I like Chris Dodd," said Damanhoury, who's mom's store, Coffee Plus, has been where many of the candidates have conducted their SL visits. "His campaign is good and he likes to interview people."
Koster, on the other hand, said he would like to see Hillary Clinton in office. "She wants to stop illegal immigration. Before I had different thinkings of who should be president but then I heard one of her campaigns on TV and I thought, 'Geez, that's good.' My dad doesn't like her. I definitely think a lady could do the job but probably we won't vote for her. I do really want George W. to go."
Both youngsters have seen the advertisements on TV and get "annoyed" with them interrupting their favorite programs, but still, they are catching information.
"It gets so frustrating," said Koster.
"Yea, like when I'm watching my show. It's the same one over and over again so I change the channel until it's over and then turn it back."
They, too, have seen the arguing between the candidates.
"They should say, 'I hope you win' instead of fighting with each other," Koster said.
Would they like to be president someday?
"I would," said Koster, "then I could do pretty much what I wanted - stamp papers and play video games all day. That'd be awesome! I'd also keep taxes not low, low, or high, high but in the middle and I'd tell the money makers to put my picture on the $1,000 bill."
Damanhoury said because he wants to be a professional football or basketball player, he doesn't believe he could handle the job of president, too. But if he were president, he said he would "invent a medicine to stop people from smoking and no beer or drinking, but keep the champagne so you can have it for your honeymoon. And I wouldn't let kids go home after school by themselves. Someone needs to be there with them."
Koster added he thought it would be tough to be president. "If people didn't like you, you could get shot.
Their favorite president? "George Washington," they said in unison.
"He actually put powder in his hair to make it look white," Damanhoury said excitedly.
There is still a long road ahead for the candidates and many more commercials and promises to be made.
May the best candidate win.