October 17, 2016

Indianapolis Student Will Have Prime Seat At Final Presidential Debate

Jade Thomas, an 8th grader at St. Richard's Episcopal School, pictured with her history teacher, Andrea Neal. - Provided photo

Jade Thomas, an 8th grader at St. Richard's Episcopal School, pictured with her history teacher, Andrea Neal.

Provided photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- When Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton face off in Las Vegas for their third and final debate, Indianapolis 8th grader Jade Thomas will be there, tweeting her reflections on the debate for PBS Education.

Jade is 13 and attends St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis. She won the right to attend Wednesday night’s debate by writing an eloquent letter to Donald Trump about the need for better policies to support families and close the gender wage gap.

Her letter was selected from more than 1,500 entries to PBS Education’s “50 for 50” contest, which asked students to write open letters to presidential candidates with ideas on how to improve the government’s effectiveness.

Jade drew on conversations with her mother and aunt about their experiences as women in the workplace.

“My aunt and my mom, I’m really close to both of them. They’ve both been in the workforce for a really long time, and they feel as if (many people) look at women as though they don’t know as much or deserve as much,” she said, adding: “I don’t really see how that works in people’s minds.”

She thought her letter might have more impact if she addressed it to the Republican presidential candidate.

“I felt that if I wrote that to Hillary Clinton she would be able to relate to it,” Jade said. “But I really wanted to inform someone about that, so I decided to write it to Donald Trump.

“It’s kind of hard for men to be all there with the wage gap. They can be informed about it, but they don’t know everything about it. I wanted them to see the logistics and how it makes people feel,” Jade said.

In her letter to Trump, Jade wrote: "According to statistics, women often must choose between a higher paying job with less time for family, or a lower paying job with more time for family. I don’t believe a woman should have to make the choice between providing for her family or spending time with her family. I’ve seen firsthand in my own life how the choice can be stressful and, most of the time, overwhelming.”

Jade said she would like to meet Trump and Clinton on Wednesday.

“We see so much about them in the media. I want to see them in real life,” she said.

What will she ask them if she does get a face-to-face moment?

“What would you do to help my generation of teenagers who are going to vote in the next election?  What does our future look like if you’re elected president?” she said.

She says she's frustrated by the nasty tone of the campaigns, and longs for thoughtful responses from the candidates on Wednesday night.

I really want them to answer the questions so that I can understand,” she said. “I want to be able to understand.”

You can follow Jade's thoughts on the debate Wednesday night using the hashtag #PBSEdu.

The other winner of the "50 for 50" contest is Zhendong Wang, a senior at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz.

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