Environmental issues and world peace are foremost on the minds of today's teen-agers.
That's the observation of 16-year-old Bryan Thanner, an 11th-grader at McDonogh School, who took part with his brother, Matthew, 12, in the recent National Teen-age Summit in New York.
The brothers, who live in Reisterstown, were among 48 students selected from 6,000 Americans who applied to participate in the teen conference, sponsored by the educational publisher, Peterson's Guides.
Last weekend's "summit" tackled two topics -- problems and expectations relating to high school, and teen concerns regarding the world at large. But "no matter what the conversation was about, it always came back to the environment," recalls Bryan. "It seems a lot of teen-agers are concerned about the environment, the way the world is going."
Students talked about helping the earth by recycling and by promoting an awareness that people can't go on consuming as much as they do now. But the teens worried that the environmental movement might run out of steam.
"A lot of people raised the question whether this was just a fad," says Bryan. "We all know if this dies out, we're in big trouble."
The Persian Gulf crisis also weighs heavily on young minds. Agreeing that peace is important, the teen delegates drafted a letter to Iraqi teen-agers setting forth their views.
"It was a short letter, stating that we as teen-agers are concerned about world peace," explains Bryan. "We wanted to show them where we stand. And then the letter asks, 'How do you feel?' "
In a discussion of teen-age sex, a girl from New York mentioned that her high school had started handing out condoms. That provoked a lively argument, but in the end conferees endorsed the practice.
"They don't see any problem with giving out condoms in school, particularly with the threat of AIDS," says Bryan.
Summit organizers sought students from different backgrounds. Bryan was most impressed by the fact the teens didn't disagree much despite the group's racial, ethnic and religious differences.
"I guess we're all teen-agers in the same boat," he says.