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Chatfield students bring American Government class to life

Chatfield students bring American Government class to life
Mark Neppl, left, as President Obama, and Luke Isensee, as Mitt Romney, debate the issues before a mock election at Chatfield High School. Janet Bren is the moderator.

CHATFIELD — The American Government class at Chatfield High School is living up to its name.

A schoolwide mock election will be held today, designed and implemented by the senior social studies class.

To begin the ongoing assignment, students in Dave Hinck's class filled out an online questionnaire that plotted them somewhere on the political spectrum.

From there, people leaning more liberal were grouped into the Obama campaign; those with more conservative leanings made up the Romney camp. The more moderate students became the election committee, charged with getting out the vote and ultimately running the election.

Both sides selected a presidential candidate and running mate from their groups, then assigned the roles of campaign managers and the rest of the campaign workers.


The candidates were charged with the tasks of "actually becoming Obama and Romney," Hinck said, by researching the presidential debates, watching political ads, absorbing daily news coverage and having daily discussions with the rest of the class.

The campaigns spent the next couple of weeks commissioning signs and posters from the seventh- and eighth-graders; producing one positive and one negative commercial; and perhaps most importantly, making a campaign stop at every single study hall and homeroom to make a stump speech and answer questions, Hinck said.

The election committee conducted a pre-election poll, built voting booths, manufactured ballots and informed the student body on the electoral college.

In order to bring that lesson to life, classes were turned into swing states. The seventh- and eighth-grades were combined to represent Florida, while the ninth- and 10th-graders were each made into another battleground state.

Based on the early polling, the campaigns had to figure out a strategy to win three of the five states in order to win the election.

The candidates — Mark Neppl as President Barack Obama and Luke Isensee as Gov. Mitt Romney — squared off in a debate Nov. 2 in front of the entire student body. Moderator Janet Bren, the English teacher at CHS, questioned the candidates on the major issues of the campaign.

No debate winner was named afterward, Hinck said.

"We’ll know (today) when Chatfield students cast their votes," he said.

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