Iowa bound

Lordstown students to attend caucus

LORDSTOWN — Fifteen Lordstown High School students will get to experience history when they travel to Des Moines for the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus in Iowa.

“I’m excited for the experience to get involved in the election,” said Jessica Hess, a senior who will caucus for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “I’ll be voting for the first time in this election. I’m expecting to get a better understanding of the voting process.”

The students — all members of the school’s Political History Club — will caucus for either Sanders or former Vice President Joe Biden. They took a vote as to whom they’d caucus, with Sanders and Biden finishing in the top two.

The Iowa caucus is Feb. 3 with the students leaving the high school at 6 a.m. Jan. 31 and taking a 10-hour-plus bus drive — an Anderson coach and not a school bus — to Des Moines. They’ll go door to door and make phone calls to convince voters to back their preferred candidates on Feb. 1 and 2 and then go to a caucus location to see who gets the state’s backing in the Democratic race.

Ava and Vincent Spano, twins who are juniors, are backing Biden though neither said they’re firmly committed to him.

“It’s going to be a very fun time,” Ava said. “We’ll see the candidates and the campaigns. We’re learning how the president is selected and about the Iowa caucus. We’re learning a lot in class and now we’ll experience it. It will be something to remember.”

Vincent said he’s an independent and he’s going because it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime event.”

He’ll be voting for the first time this year and said the Iowa trip “will have a big impact on my decision as to who I’ll support. This is the first big political event of the year. It’s going to be crazy and it’s going to be fun.”

The school’s Political History Club went to the Iowa caucus in 2008 and 2016. The club has taken other trips, including attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, and local rallies with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

“The excitement level of our students is very high,” said Terry Armstrong, Lordstown school superintendent, who will join them as he did in 2008 and 2016. “It’s great to see this through their eyes.”

Several club members said they joined because of the enthusiasm shown by Courtney Gibson, the club’s supervisor and a Lordstown High School government teacher.

Hannah Boyle, a senior who is backing Sanders, said she’s wanted to go since she heard about the 2016 trip when she was in the eighth grade.

As for backing Sanders, Boyle said, “I like that Bernie tends to side with the people more than (President Donald) Trump. He’s a people person. Being a socialist, he’s the workingman’s politician. We don’t need more one-percenters. He seems to care more about the people than” other candidates.

Boyle, who worked as a pollworker in Trumbull County in November 2019, said: “It’s going to be very interesting to see people running around to work for their candidates” in Iowa.

Each student paid about $400 to $500 for the trip, which includes hotel accommodations and transportation.