Sedalia Park’s academic coach Susan Thompson said the school often holds mock elections, but stepped up the efforts this year.
Four students from the fifth grade were selected by their teachers to portray the presidential and vice presidential candidates.
On Friday, the four met in a mock debate that was broadcast to the rest of the student body. Yesterday, they walked the halls on the “campaign trail,” before students cast their ballots.
Micaiah Williams portrayed President Barack Obama; Jack Casey was Vice President Joe Biden; Andrew Fedderson was Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney; and Ashton Cordisco was Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan.
Micaiah said he took notes on the televised presidential debates and studied Obama’s hand motions.
“Easier (topics) for me were the economy and taxes and the harder ones were health care and Medicare,” he said.
Jack said Biden was “probably one of the easiest candidates” to impersonate.
“He is funny, not always the serious guy, which I respect and I like that,” he said. “I enjoyed pretending to be a vice president, that was the coolest part.”
Andrew, who played Mitt Romney, said he too watched the televised debates.
“I looked at several websites and watched the debates and took notes,” he said, adding that he “also got some help from my peers.”
Ashton said his research on Ryan was both hard and easy because he couldn’t understand a lot of the terminology candidates were using.
“I learned that he’s really good — I mean really, really good — with math,” he said.
The students also practiced a lot with their parents, and Casey said USA Today’s candidate match game was “extremely helpful” for him.
Their debate Friday morning lasted about 15 minutes. Each presidential candidate was asked to voice their candidates’ opinions on jobs, defense and the environment, and each vice president candidate spoke about immigration and health insurance.
Academic coach Thompson said the teachers tried to pick topics the kids would be interested in.
“They came up with exactly what they were going to say,” she said. “There were some really nice pieces in there where they would kind of jab each other a bit but were much more polite than what is actually seen on TV. They did a great job!”
The debate was mediated by the fifth-grader Shaylon Walker, who said it’s very important for voters to learn as much as they can about the elections.
“If you don’t know what to look for, you might be putting yourself in the wrong hands and if our country falls into a bad situation and we can’t get out, you might regret your vote,” Shaylon said. “You want to make sure that you got the right vote for what you think.”
Thompson said the four mock candidates agreed that they liked some aspects from each of the candidates and thought better candidates would be “Rombama” and “Bryan.”
“I thought it was really insightful that they wished they could merge the candidates and that would have been the best choice for our country,” Thompson said. “Even though they feel strongly about the person they are portraying and the person they would vote for, there are issues on either side that they also felt strongly about wishing they could tweak and share each others’ opinions.”
At the polling location in the media center, fourth graders manned the polls, while third-grade students did live updates on the campaign through the school’s closed-circuit television station.
Students in all grades of the K-5 school were allowed to create an identification card, sign a registration form, and then cast a ballot.
“The entire school came together to support this,” Thompson said. “You almost wish this little microcosm could be multiplied for our country to come together like that, because it was a beautiful thing.”