GALION — Students in Mike Moore’s Modern History Conflicts class at Galion High School experienced a new approach to learning about government before the holiday break started.
They held a presidential election.
Since students returned from Thanksgiving break, they have been planning and organizing campaigns for four student candidates: Madelyn Thomas, Tristan Williams, Seth Myers and Brandon Stevens.
Each candidate chose a running mate and political party affiliation. Two ended up as Independents, along with one Republican and one Democrat.
Moore helped the candidates structure their teams and delegate responsibilities as part of the campaign process. Beyond having a running mate, candidates chose a campaign advisor and campaign secretary who assisted with responsibilities, similar to that of an actual campaign.
The candidates were required to choose five issues to focus their campaign around, one of which had to be related to student life at the high school. Military support, health care, immigration reform, as well as grading policies and block scheduling were common topics among the campaign teams.
Candidates prepared a student-filmed commercial to support their ideas, as well as signage and buttons to pass out to supporters.
The week of Dec. 11 was Election Week at Galion High School. And it was a big event for all students.
On Monday and Tuesday, candidates for president and vice president participated in debates on the issues in front of various classes during the school day.
“Candidates didn’t always agree with their running mates on every issue,” said Moore. “It was interesting — and positive — to see the kids respect the differences within their own campaigns and continue to support each other.”
On Wednesday, Dec 13, each candidate campaigned during lunch by meeting with voters and passing out buttons or badges. On Thursday, the commercial for each candidate was aired during study halls througout the school day.
The commercials were produced by students and featured each candidate, as well as classmates.
To end the week-long event, an online election was held on Friday. Students and teacher cast their votes for the candidate of their choice.
And the winners were Juniors Tristan Williams and his running mate Jack McElligott.
While there is no official “incentive” for winning, the involvement and excitement from the students was more than Moore anticipated.
“I’ve never had a group of kids come in for three weeks and be this interested and engaged,” he said. “It hasn’t even been about teaching the kids. They just did it on their own. I didn’t do a lesson. I just advised and kept them on pace with each other. They just took off with it!”
Looking ahead to the next school year, Moore has every intention of repeating the election with the hopes of expanding the event beyond the walls of Galion High School.
“I would like to involve the community,” he said.
Ideally, he would bring in members of local government to speak about the campaign process. He’s hoping to also get some small sponsorships to assist students with the costs of campaigning.
“We are doing great things at Galion High School,” Moore said. “From the staff, to the administration, students, and coaches, we have a lot to be proud of in our accomplishments and what we have in front of us.”
Contact Erin Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-468-1117 x-2049.