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Several North Carolina high school journalists are covering the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week.

Anna Talarico is the co-editor of the Providence Prowl, the student newspaper at Providence High School in Charlotte. She writes about her first impressions of the DNC on Sept. 2.

Ann Doss Helms interviews Anna Talarico, of Providence High,
and Sydney Green, of East Mecklenburg High

Note to self: Instead of trying to look cute for the DNC, I’m going to stick with tennis shoes and gym shorts. Downtown Charlotte was so hot, so sticky, and so crowded on Sunday that I can’t imagine wearing anything uncomfortable. I would be disgusted with myself if the opportunity to take the perfect photograph or quickly meeting with a well-known delegate was missed because I wanted to wear an adorable pair of sandals with a short summer Lilly Pulitzer dress.

Do Christiane Amanpour or Richard Engel care about fashion when they’re in the field? Nope, I don’t think so.

Sunday was chaos, but it was the best kind of chaos. I felt rushed, yet composed amidst the police squads shielding me against the surprisingly peaceful protest as it floated by me on Stonewall Street. My first protest…I feel like it should be included in my baby book.

I’ve never seen so many people bound together by one cause: They just wanted their voices to be heard. As a student journalist, this was the most powerful lesson and sight I could have experienced. No school story about the quarterback’s post-high school plans, the French Club’s service project, or what a student did this summer could compare to the exhilaration that I felt while I was standing with my camera between a woman with dreadlocks and a “99%” sign and a group of Hispanic Charlotteans crying for their rights as citizens. It was unbelievable, and what thrills me even more is that we as Americans have total freedom to do this: fight like heck for what we believe in.

Earlier in the day, I attended the “South and Presidential Politics 2012” forum at the Charlotte Observer. To me, it was like attending the Oscars. I met Judy Woodruff, Anne Caulkins, Chapel Hill J-School Dean Susan King and I saw Mayor Foxx, Rick Thames, and so many professional journalists who were there to do the same job as me. There were moments when I had to say to myself, “Wow this is so cool…Stop thinking about it and pay attention!!! You need to write a story about this!!!”

The event itself was eye-opening. Scott Keeter of the Pew Research Center spoke about how the South’s demographic has changed so much so that the political party preference of Southerners has shifted from Republican to Democratic. What I took away from the panelists was that the South is so pivotal in this election that how electorates from just the Southern states vote could changed the future of America.

Wow. It just hit me that the DNC hasn’t even officially started yet. Could that be possible?

Follow the Providence Prowl’s coverage of the DNC on Twitter.

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