RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) –High school students from 12-different South Dakota Schools got a unique opportunity to have their voices heard by a U.S. congressman. 

Just like adults, a lot of the kids in this room have experienced just how contentious today’s society can be.

“Like we should be able to talk about something and relate and then also have differences. But also come to a consensus of an agreement that something needs to be changed, we need to do something about it and we can do something about it,” Sturgis High School senior Brooks Brandner said.

“But you still need to engage in a way that is respectful and that maintains a landscape so that tomorrow you can work together to get good things done and I think our country can learn a lot from these young people,” South Dakota’s U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson said.

This Level Up youth conference featured over 12 different schools and over 350 different kids participating in active discussions all about learning and communicating.

“Just all the talk that your voice does matter, because sometimes I don’t feel like it does but then coming into being 18 it’s really great to know that if I do say something about it, people will hear me and will listen,” Brandner said.

Congressman Johnson says kids today can view news at a moment’s notice which makes them different from previous generations.

“Some of that’s good, some of that’s bad but ultimately, these are going to be the leaders. We can either put them down and tell them there’s not a role for them, or tell them to do it differently, or we can engage them and make sure they’re making this country even better,” Johnson said.

In addition to listening to what kids have to say, another goal of Level Up is to get more young people to the polls on election day.

Level Up is all about encouraging the youth to find and use their voice to help solve current issues.