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What Would You Do with A Trillion Dollars?

April 11, 2012

CHICAGO - Young people from Chicago and five other cities will be in the nation's capital this weekend to tell Congress what they would do with $1 trillion.

They're the winners of a contest, having produced three-minute videos considering other uses for the $1 trillion spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the more than $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Senior Raymond Duran edited one of the winning films, produced by a group of students in his civics class at Chicago's Kelly High School. He says he'd spend more money on education.

"That's the only thing they can't take away from you. They can take away your money, your car, anything - but education is going to stay with you. So, it's always good to have that education, and education can really change a lot in this country."

Duran, the oldest of his family's four children, will be going to college next year. He says he worries about the high dropout rate in Chicago, and hopes there will be funding for his siblings to attend college as well.

The Chicago Public Schools are planning to extend the school day, although some parent groups oppose that plan because of the school budget deficit. Duran says he sees it as a good investment.

"It sounds weird from a student saying it, that I would love to have more time in school. You have more time to learn your core subjects, such as science and math, and that time can really be helpful."

Duran says he resisted peer pressure and stayed away from gangs by looking for mentors.

"I started talking more with adults than I talk to kids my own age because I know that they've been through what I've been through. They're the ones that gave me all that advice to stay to school and decide what I want to do with my future."

Duran is one of two students from his civics class to be chosen for the trip. He says he wants to make sure that all the students who worked on the video get credit.

Four other Chicago entries won the video contest, including Street Level Youth Media, Free Spirit Media and a team from the Chicago American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Summer Camp. The contest was sponsored by AFSC and the National Priorities Project.

Watch the winning videos online at

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - IL