Parties with a purpose: Political conventions return to Galion Middle School

By Erin Miller - Galion Inquirer

GALION — A popular event from the past returned to Galion Middle School classrooms recently.

Former Galion Middle School should remember the annual political convention event with great fondness. It was held every year in the fall with the purpose of electing a a student council president.

The political convention process closely mirrored that of the major American political parties during a presidential election. Students were split into two parties, and from there divided into states with a certain number of electoral votes to be cast according to that state.

At the end of each convention, two candidates were nominated — one from each party — and the school then voted on a president. It was a well-liked and much-anticipated event for students and staff.

Former Galion teacher Marcia Yunker remembers the conventions well. She came to GMS as a history teacher in the mid 1980s, and was heavily involved in the process during her years there.

“I think much of the credit for the planning and original idea of the political conventions back then goes to Darrell Lemke and Bob Casey,” Yunker said. “They were very instrumental in getting it off the ground.

“Of course, the entire staff during those years was full of team players,” Yunker continued. “We were blessed with a great group of teachers who came together to make such wonderful educational activities happen for our kids!”

Unfortunately, state curriculum and testing requirements meant changes over the years for the staff and students at GMS. While there were a couple of attempts to bring the political convention back to the students, it was never able to stay in place.

Perhaps, that has changed.

With the implementation of the Lighthouse Team program at Galion Middle School, teachers were looking for some new ideas that would involve and catch the interest of students.

“We’ve tried to bring the political convention back for many years. Involving the Lighthouse Committee was a perfect way to make it happen for the students,” said intervention teacher Cindy Glew. “Flexibility in our schedules has allowed us to build this activity and others back into the school year.”

Much like the conventions of years gone by, students were divided into separate political parties which were also named by the students: The Wildcats and Your Everyday Educational Team … or The YEET’s.

Seven candidates, as well as running mates, stepped up to compete for the nomination between both of the political parties. Each candidate had to come up with a platform, for their campaign which consisted of topics relevant to GMS students, such as vending machine items and getting rid of the student dress code.

On the day of the convention, all students had a role in the event. Students led their political party in the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. Student representatives from each of the 50 states had to deliver small speeches and cast their electoral votes.

At the conclusion of each convention, a candidate and running mate from each party was chosen to face off against each other in an upcoming election. Win or lose, candidates will likely serve on a student Lighthouse Leadership committee in some capacity.

Teachers at GMS are hopeful that the momentum and learning from this experience will carry on for the rest of the school year and years to come.

“The purpose of having a Lighthouse Team is building and growing into multiple groups that affect various aspects of school life for teachers and students,” Glew said. “The enthusiasm and willingness to participate from our students for the conventions alone was a big step in the right direction as we continue to build our Team at GMS.”

By Erin Miller

Galion Inquirer

Contact Erin Miller at [email protected] or 419-468-1117 x-2049.

Contact Erin Miller at [email protected] or 419-468-1117 x-2049.