Clarendon Hills Middle School students vote in mock election
Charles Zayed (left), who took the role of Barack Obama, and Gianni Frasca, who took the role of Mitt Romney, shake hands after a mock presidential debate Nov. 5 at Clarendon Hills Middle School. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 7, 2012 6:08PM
CLARENDON HILLS — A sometimes-heated debate Monday at Clarendon Hills Middle School was followed shortly after with a handshake between friends.
As part of a four-day study and project about the Nov. 6 presidential election, social studies classes conducted mock presidential debates Monday. Students were then offered the opportunity to vote in the school’s mock election.
Students have Tuesday off as a teachers’ institute day, and results of the mock election were to be presented and discussed the next day, as was the real presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Eighth-graders Charles Zayed and Gianni Frasca took on the roles of Obama and Romney, respectively, for one classroom debate. They were joined by C.J. Enright in the role of Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and David Wilkemeyer as Republican candidate Paul Ryan.
Neither Charles nor Gianni had to betray their personal feelings to play the role of the candidate they represented during the mock debate.
“I’m definitely for Obama; I’m a Democrat and so are my family,” Charles said.
Gianni said both he and his family members support Romney.
“My dad is a small business owner,” Gianni said. “He’s doing OK, but it’s getting tougher. I watch Fox News, and they tell the truth.”
Both Gianni and Charles said they enjoyed the experience of preparing for the mock debate by studying issues such as the economy, defense, gay marriage and abortion.
“I’ve learned a lot about the issues by being involved in this,” Charles said. “I like to argue, and getting involved in politics is something I might be interested in doing some day.”
Mario Castillo, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, said the mock debates and election was a wonderful opportunity for students.
“We discuss the election, the system of it, and doing this leads to a much better understanding,” Castillo said. “There’s no better time to do something like this than when we have an actual election.”
Castillo said the 2012 presidential election has been a hot topic of discussion among students.
“They’re really interested in the election this year,” he said. “Every day, we talk about current events, and the discussion always comes back to the election.”
Castillo said that while students typically mirror the political views of their parents, he has seen some exceptions.
“It is pretty typical for kids to generally agree with what they hear their parents talk positively about, but we do have some students here who are very different, politically, from their parents.”