New Castle News

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November 7, 2012

Photo Gallery, Story: Hartman Elementary elects a school president one day after mock debate

NEW CASTLE — A presidency was decided yesterday.

No, not that one.

The winner in this campaign was Madeline Spadafore, who was elected school president at Hartman Elementary in Ellwood City. Her vice president is Tara Marsh.

“I feel as if I have won the election for the president of the United States,” Madeline said. “Since I won, I think that I can help many people at Hartman school. Thank you to all who voted for me and to everyone who supported me through this process. We are the future, and it’s our job to make Hartman a better place.”

About 300 students voted yesterday morning after an elaborate mock debate Monday that was patterned after the real-life political process.

It started with students nominating three candidates — Zoe Maine and Michael Medlin, were the other two — who then debated each other on the issues.

But forget jobs and foreign policy.

“We didn’t want it to be a popularity contest, with kids voting for their friends,” teacher Darin Morella explained. “We wanted them to focus on the issues — but not national and international issues. We created our own issues.”

Those, Morella said, included school activities, and how to enhance inside recess; ways to get the school and students more involved with the community; and how to increase school spirit and student motivation.

“Each candidate then had to form a committee for each issue,” Morella explained, “so we had at least 80 kids involved in the entire process.”

Candidates also chose theme songs, Morella said, and entered Monday’s debate arena while their particular song played. At least one even came with “Secret Service” guards wearing suits and sunglasses.

“With the (national) election up,” Morella said, “we wanted to create our own election as a social studies project. We wanted to help the kids learn about the political process, but we also wanted to make it  about them organizing their campaigns and learning how to become leaders themselves.”

(Email: d_irwin@ncnewsonline.com)

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