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Few teens feel impact


President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 affected the nation so strongly that people can still remember where they were, what they were doing, even what they were wearing.

Paulina Keel, Sonora High School discipline secretary, can't talk about the assassination without tears welling in her eyes. She vividly remembers coming home from high school to find her parents painting the house, "working madly" to keep the fate of the headless nation off their minds.

But how to convey that level of emotion to students who were still 20 years from being born when Kennedy died?

"I'll tell you, it's disappointing how little kids know these days," Keel said.

But it isn't entirely their fault.

On Sonora High School's campus at lunch yesterday, opinions were not readily available. In fact, none of the students interviewed knew that the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination is tomorrow.

Many Tuolumne County teachers were unavailable for comment yesterday.

But only one student said his teacher brought the topic up in class, and then only briefly.

"The teachers are like ‘What do you guys feel about this?' Total silence, and he's like, ‘All right, moving on,'" said senior Greg Benton.

Across the quad, another group of students said they wouldn't mind talking about Kennedy in class.

"Conspiracy is interesting," said senior Jeremy Smith.

"It'd be something interesting to talk about instead of all the usual boring crap," said senior Mark Fischer.

"It'd be an interesting debate," agreed classmate Claire Matthews.

At Calaveras High School, history teacher John Franceschi said he brought up the topic last week during his regular Friday-morning current-events quiz.

"I was surprised they knew, considering they were only born 17, 16 years ago," Franceschi said.

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