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Students face off in mock debate

Published: Thu, October 25, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.


The 8th grade class at Holy Family put on a mock presidential debate on October 14, 2012. Emilee Mulhall plays President Obama.

By Ashley Luthern | aluthern@vindy.com


After two months of preparation, the time had arrived.

The presidential candidates sat at a table, flanked by campaign managers poised to hand off meticulously prepared note cards.

The audience at Holy Family School quieted, and moderator Jacob Ovaska began the debate, asking for opening statements.

Since 1988, eighth-grade students at Holy Family have had mock presidential debates every four years.

The tradition continued Wednesday with Robert Kurta and Patrick Brennan serving as Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, respectively, and Emilee Mulhall and Anthony Zeno as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

“We can’t afford four more years of Barack Obama,” Robert said.

The four candidates fielded questions about the economy, health care, outsourcing jobs, use of natural resources and education. Students serving as reporters created and delivered the questions.

Like the candidates they impersonated, Robert and Emilee clashed on many topics.

Robert said he would cut taxes for the middle class; Emilee said she would cut taxes for the middle class and raise taxes on high-income earners. Robert said the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, must be repealed and replaced; Emilee argued it should stay because under it, more people will be insured and the cost of health-care insurance will decrease.

They were helped by campaign managers Kirsten Joss, Christopher Lewis, Tayler Myers and Jensen Kniska.

Linda Taylor, an eighth grade social studies teacher, said students began researching both political parties and candidates when school began in August.

“They researched and went online to gather information. We pulled up clips of the debates and watched it in class,” she said.

Every eighth grader played a role, from U.S. Secret Service agents to reporters to campaign managers.

“It took a lot of research and getting to know both sides. We talked about taxes and education and how things could improve under each candidate’s policies,” Emilee said.

Students in third through seventh grade observed the debate, which was designed to inform them before the school’s Nov. 2 mock election.

Several parents also attended. Joe Zeno said the assignment increased his son Anthony’s interest in the presidential election.

“This forces them to look into issues instead of getting a 30-second sound bite or advertisement, and they have to explain their position from the candidates’ perspective,” Zeno said.


1IslandMike(757 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

The kid playing Mitt-Flopper should have suggessted shutting GM, that way there would be no more bus drivers, teachers or school. But hey, look at the BRILLIANT idea the Mitt-Flopper has to turn MEDICARE into a VOUCHER PROGRAM. LOL!!!

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2Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

I love the 2 in the background acting like the Secret Service. Nice touch there.
Good job kids!

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3bucks(1 comment)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

I am so proud of these 8th grade Students at Holy Family School in Poland. They set such such a fine example for all of Mahoning County. They are the future of the United States of America. Thank You students and teachers of Holy Family School!

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4paulparks(235 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

It's a disgrace for a Catholic school to host a debate with someone pretending to be the most anti-Catholic - culture of death - president in history. What an embarrassment!

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5Thinking(4 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

This is a very good lesson in government and public affairs for these kids. To those who complain about the views of the "mock" Obama or Romney: Hey, we're not living in North Korea here. Political debate and respectful differences in opinion are encouraged in the USA. Let's focus on what a great system we have and not on mudslinging.

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6paulparks(235 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

Holy Family is NOT a public school. And since it purports to be a Catholic institution, it should espouse Catholic values. The Diocese of Youngstown supports her sister diocese that have sued the Obama administration over the HHS mandate - which forces organizations like Holy Family to provide contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs for its employees! Get real "Thinking!" You are right. This isn't North Korea. We supposedly still have freedom of religion here. Holy Family dropped the ball.

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7Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

You people are a trip. Nit picking on a assignment for 8 GRADERS! Freaking 8 graders and your looking way to deep into it! Get real. Leave your stupid political garbage for the grown up articles. You people must really need a life to bi@# and moan on a 8 grade assignment. You silly pitiful adults. Grow up.

""Since 1988, eighth-grade students at Holy Family have had mock presidential debates every four years."""

SINCE 1988!!!!! And now in 2012 you idiots have to complain. Unreal.

"""Linda Taylor, an eighth grade social studies teacher, said students began researching both political parties and candidates when school began in August."""

Is that not what EDUCATION is about? Researching and studying and being with CURRENT events? And you losers still complain. Amazing......

With fools like you's, this world is in deep trouble for whoever you's vote for. 8 graders...geez...

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8Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago


You must have a sad life to comment on someones grammar. Your not still in 8th grade are you? Pitiful.

But at least your not putting down 8th graders education. Have to give you that....

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9cambridge(3262 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago


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10DSquared(1477 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

This one should have been easy. Who is the candidate of the Party of Death? That's right kids. BHO End of debate.

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11georgejeanie(1007 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

Good job, kids, teachers, administrators. I do not think their is a teacher or adminstrator in a public school which would encourage this kind of an assignment, no guts, union teachers would not want anything good said about any Republican.

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12VINDYAK(1803 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

This reminds me of my school days when I was on the JFK team. PT-109 hero. Of course, this was prior to knowledge of his affairs with Marilyn Monroe. What we learned (taught) was brainwashing by the school system into believing the Democratic Party was the only party we should ever vote for. This brainwashing carried on into college as well. For institutions that touted freedom of choice, they certainly went out of their way to convince us their opinions were gospel. Now, I have grandchildren coming home with Democratic bumper stickers that they got in school. So much for teaching freedom of choice! Our tax dollars hard at work! When it's time for a school tax increase, don't come crying to me that the levy failed!

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13saddad(645 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago

It isnt brainwashing. Its called education. I know that Republicans get their education from Fox News and that they oppose any critical thinking so I dont try and tell them anything unless they pop off as they are inclined to do. I dont let their nonsense go unchallenged but that isnt because I expect to sway their thinking or lack thereof.

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14Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 2 years, 6 months ago


I apologize, I took it the wrong way. And a sad life? That was childish of me to say, I'll learn to count to 10 next time before I type. Once again, I apologize.

Have a great weekend!

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