Gov Courses Simulate Political Campaigns

Nikki Honda, Co-Sports Editor

Government classes concluded a month-long presidential election simulation designed to teach students about the process of political campaigns. The project began March 18 and continued through April 19.

The classes, consisting of all seniors, began their simulation by being divided into 6 different political parties of about 5 or 6 students per class period. Government teacher Paul Verbanszky said, “Students create their own party with a mascot, slogan, poster, button, bumper sticker, commercial, speeches, and debates.” The parties also write a press release and participate in press conferences.

In addition to the activities held in class, each student chooses a position in the party, such as President, Vice President, Campaign Manager (Party Idealogue), Treasurer, or Press Secretary (Press Relations Director).

Senior Michael Flynn, President of the Black Tie Party, said his job as President was to make sure his group was getting the job done and put his ideas forward to present himself as a strong leader for the people. Flynn was pleased with his group and their ability to meet for a common goal. “People in my group are really hard-working. Everyone has a bunch of great ideas,” Flynn said.

Over the weeks, students examined the history and costs of previous campaigns and applied this knowledge to their own political parties. “They learn about the intricacies of campaigning,” Verbanszky said. He added that during the debates there was “a little bit of mud slinging,” or attempts by one party to discredit an opposing party.

Senior Claire Faulkner, President of the Panoramic Party, said her job as President consisted of participating in 2 debates, giving lots of speeches, and working on campaign ads and a commercial. She said that the debates were the most stressful part because classmates could ask any question to put her on the spot.

The final week of the project concluded with debate days and Vice President speeches. These speeches were intended for the parties to provide  “damage control” and make a “final push for votes,” according to Verbanszky. The Vice Presidents tried to correct any mistakes from previous speeches and attempted to persuade students to vote for them.

Flynn explained that there were certain qualities necessary for a President to win. “You have to make the audience like you, and you have to be charismatic, reliable and knowledgable,” he said. Faulkner, on the other hand, believed that the President should be outgoing, optimistic, and able to think on his or her feet. He or she should also be open to other people’s ideas, and flexible in their opinions.

Flynn was optimistic of his party’s chances of winning. “No matter how it shakes down I think we’ll all be satisfied. With that being said, we’d be stoked to win,” he said.

The student that won the presidential election was given the opportunity to lead the class in future simulations. “He or she leads our end of the year Congress simulation, which is a mock congress with some changes to make it work in an academic setting,” Verbanszky said. Held later in the year, the Congress simulation will be 2 and a half weeks and will teach students about bills, laws, and other aspects of Congress.

According to Verbanszky, the presidential simulation was a hands-on approach to learning about campaigns, as opposed to simply following the lesson plan. “It’s more fun than just reading the textbook,” he said.

“It gives the students an opportunity to discover and participate in political campaigns,” he said. “What’s cool about the presidential simulation is that I really get to see the students’ creative side along with their mature insight on global politics.”