Students engaged in election
The 'Laker Party Political Convention' set for Election Day.
At a time when many people are tuning out election issues, Glen Lake students are tuning in.
On Tuesday, Election Day, students in grades 9-12, will hold their Laker Party Political Convention, conducted every four years in conjunction with the national presidential race. At Glen Lake it will be the second time for the event, designed to simulate a national political convention.
“What happens in a four-day national convention is compressed into one day,” said teacher Kris Herman, who participated in a similar event while teaching in Blissfield.
While people will be heading to work or the polls Tuesday, more than 300 students will be divided alphabetically into state delegations to discuss topics, such as the economy, homeland security, education, tax reform, foreign policy, health care, gun control, energy, the environment and abortion. Student facilitators are assigned to each room to keep the discussion on track.
“I’m really pleased with how much the kids have gotten into it,” Herman said of the enthusiasm for the student-driven event. “They are a lot more interested in the political process than what you’d think.”
From there, groups will reconvene to hear reports on different issues through discussion groups and finalize a platform for the Laker Party.
A team of six senior government students has been assembled to represent their parties in a three-way debate in the afternoon. Student representatives include Theresa Hubbell and Barbara Buchan for the Democratic Party, Mike Salamino and Brad Rosinski for the Republican Party, and Andrew White and Ali Peterson for the Laker Party.
“I’ve been doing some research. I need to get it down quick,” said Buchan. Her Democratic partner, Hubbell, has also been putting some in prep time.
“I’ve been researching the Democratic platform but at the same time I’ve also been researching the Republican platform to prepare counter arguments,” she said.
The Internet has proven a valuable research tool. Rosinski’s preparation has also included a little more attention paid to news coverage of the issues.
“I watch the news every night anyway, so it doesn’t take much to listen a little closer,” he said.
His partner, Salamino, was not present at one of three “debate camp” sessions scheduled for the party leaders. The senior was out of town on a college visit, leaving Rosinski to represent the Republicans.
“Each of you backups need to be prepared to step up if your candidate isn’t here on convention day,” Herman said during the debate camp. “If you have any giggling to do, now is the time to get it out of the way before the debate.”
White and Peterson will also have to prepare, but they won’t know what position the Laker Party will be taking until it is compiled based on the positions taken by the state delegations.
“I’ll prepare as much as can — not knowing what the platform will be makes it a little more difficult,” White said.
The entire student body will assemble in the afternoon to witness the 3-way debate between the Democratic, Republican and Laker Party candidates. It will be moderated by Herman, who took over teaching government for longtime instructor Don Miller, who retired last year.
At the end of the day, students will be given the chance to vote for one of the three candidates. In 2004, the student representing the Republican Party came out on top; the Democrat, second and not too behind, the Laker Party.
“The Democratic and Laker Party platforms were so similar that it split the vote,” Herman said. “They were able to see how a third party can impact an election.”