Yesterday, I covered a debate at Bishop O’Dowd High School between representatives of the Obama and McCain campaigns. Hundreds of students attended the optional event, which was organized by 15-year-old Julia Owens — who told me she thought it would be useful and fun for her classmates to watch a live debate.
The students’ questions were detailed and policy-oriented. One referenced the economic crisis, and another asked about the prospect of Georgia’s membership in NATO: “Is there anything that can be done to help people like my grandparents who are out of the workforce and are too old or ill to go back to work?” and “Why is defending Georgia in the national interest of the United States?”
Government teacher Bonnie Sussman, who’s been at O’Dowd since 1972, says she senses an enthusiasm around this election — and that her students, for the most part, seem quite knowledgeable about the issues at hand. (Photo below, by D. Ross Cameron: After the event, kids with follow-up questions crowded the stage.)
I interviewed Owens, along with students Kate Drew, Wolfgang Alders, Rachel Sklar and Brandon Pinkard-Scott, before the event began. They told me that the election has been a big topic in class discussions and at lunchtime since last year, in part because of the intense and historic Democratic primary.
Kim Wetzel, my colleague at the Contra Costa Times (now a sister paper of the Tribune), is working on a similar story about youth involvement in the election. She’s looking for examples, so I thought I’d check with you.
What are the local schools doing to leverage the excitement around this election into a learning opportunity? How are kids or teachers becoming involved on either side?
photos by D. Ross Cameron/Tribune