Thursday, October 30, 2008

Alexander High Schoolers Debate and Discuss the Election

Brianna Savoca

Alexander High School held a mock presidential debate the week before the November 4th election. The mock debate gave students an opportunity to learn about where the candidates stand on the issues.

"Everything was designed around the election," Government teacher Joel Laufman says. "We created the debate so we could specifically address what was going on and the kids could know about the issues."

Students in Laufman's Honors U.S. Government class divided into pairs. Each group researched the Democrat and Republican side of specific issues and had nine minutes to present both sides to the class. Some students even took on the personas of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.

Mr. Laufman discusses his government course.

Laufman says the best part of the debate was seeing his students formulate their own opinions after researching the issues.

"The kids that could vote felt pretty confident," Laufman says. "Some of they kids were frustrated who were learning this and couldn't vote."


After the debate, Athens MidDay had a group discussion with the class. The students discussed the issues that mattered to them: the economy, the war, campaign ads, celebrity endorsements, party alignments, and their parents' viewpoints.

Below are students' personal opinions expressed following the debate.


"Even though I don't have a job and don't pay taxes, I still feel like what's going on now is going to effect me in the future," Stephanie Shapiro says.

"When we did our economics section, learning about national deficit and national debt opened my eyes incredibly," Stephanie says. "What I can do now affects the future."


"I don't think we can just pull out," Drew Payne says. "I think we need to finish what we started."

Drew Payne talks about gun control and the war.

"As for the war, I don't personally agree with it," Stephanie says.

"I want to pull out troops who are just wasting their lives now," Matt Sheets says.


"I think it's unfortunate when people take campaign ads to heart," Liz Cohenour says. "Especially when it's only one-percent truth, and just spun into some big thing."

Greg Croxford says, "I would like to think people are more educated and aren't ignorant enough to just watch a commercial and say, 'okay, I'll vote for that guy.'"

"Politicians usually just say what people want to hear. I think it's important to look at both sides," Liz says.

Rather than promoting their own ideas, they're just pointing fingers at the other side," Greg says. "I don't really feel like I'm swayed by them much at all."


"When it comes to celebrities,you have to decide if you believe in what you believe in, or if you believe in what they do just because they're famous," Matt says.

"If they've got something good to say about it, it's great to have some facts and take it in," Drew says. "But that doesn't mean anything because they're famous. That's their opinion."


"I can't believe some people can just go through a ballot and go completely Democratic or completely Republican," Drew says. "You can't agree with one side the whole way."

"I feel like people who are more Democratic or Republican vote that way because they always have," Liz says.


"Both my parents are generally Republican or conservative," Greg says. "But there are some issues I've looked up that I disagree with them on."

Greg Croxford talks about his parents and voting.

"I was on the Democratic side of the debate, and I had the opportunity to research the other side" Lauren Raines says. "Now I disagree with my family."

Lauren says her family are strong Republicans, and Laufman's class has sparked some interesting family discussions.

"We do have debates at dinner about his," Lauren says. "It gets a little heated sometimes."


Three students in Laufman's class were old enough to vote in the upcoming election.

"We're finally getting to vote and put our name on a ballot," Matt says.

All three first-time voters agreed the debate prepared them to make an informed decision when they are in the ballot box.

"Learning in class, doing projects such as mock debates or doing flyers to inform other students, I think it's educated me [to vote]," Stephanie says.

"We learn about every issue to the best of our ability," Drew says. "I think we have good information, better than most people."


While Laufman says he's not advocating lowering the voting age for everyone, he thinks the seventeen-year-olds in his class would be ready to vote.

"These seventeen-year-olds, they are well informed and able to make decisions like that," Laufman says.

"It just kinda sucks because I feel like we all have opinions on this," Liz says. "I feel like I'm more informed or more educated on the election than a lot of people who are going to vote."

"Although I'm not old enough to vote yet," Greg says, "in the future I'll be looking up each issue and trying to make an unbiased decision."

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