Leading up to Tuesday’s election, millions of Americans got informed about the candidates and issues in order to make an educated decision for president and other races. Despite not being old enough to cast an official ballot, students in the Valley Stream Central High School District did the same.
Students in Jack Gorman’s Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics classes at Central High School have been working closely with this year’s presidential election, discussing the key issues on the national stage and even the candidates’ mannerisms during the debates.
Like many teachers in the district, Gorman uses an online component as a way to teach his students. He set up a live blog for his 80 students to use while watching the presidential and vice presidential debates this fall, and for Gorman, the results have been great.
“There are kids you might never hear from in class, but are all over this,” he said of the live blog. “They’re not comfortable in a room full of 30 kids, but on a computer they are elaborating and sharing their opinions.”
He said students shared their thoughts on what was being discussed in the debates and were also keen on the attention-grabbing quotes from each of the candidates.
“It makes the debate more entertaining and it gives you everybody else’s perspective,” said Yumiko Siev, 17, of the live blog.
“As I’m watching the debate and I read through everything, I get different points of view,” Jakim Beaufort, 17, added. The two seniors said interacting with classmates on an instantaneous basis during the debates allowed them to see issues from all sides, which they liked.
“People started pointing out things about (Vice President Joseph) Biden’s body language and it makes it more fun rather than just watching it by yourself,” Siev said. “It’s still fun because it’s politics, but it’s not as fun.”
During the third presidential debate, the website that hosts the live blog was not working, so students could not communicate with one another. Beaufort said the third debate had a much different feel to it for him because he couldn’t interact with his classmates.
Gorman, who has been teaching at Central for 13 years, said his students are very perceptive to what the candidates are saying and enjoy having their opinions heard.
Gorman’s classes are taking their annual trip to Washington D.C. on Friday where they will get a tour of the Capitol Building, see the various monuments and museums, go to Mount Vernon, President George Washington’s former home, and partake in a host of other activities.
At North High School, students also got a chance to voice their opinions in a mock election. Students in grades 7-12 chose between the two presidential candidates and members of the social studies department were to tabulate the votes. There were also several questions the students had to answer about the their feelings on the nation’s major issues.
“We want students to actively engage in the election process” said North High Principal Cliff Odell, “and the best way to do that, and to help them realize the best way to do it, is to research what your own values and opinions are, to research what the candidates platforms are and then make an informed decision, not just based upon appearance or what a friend has told you.”