Llano students take election seriously

The questions were direct and to the point as students at Llano Junior High School geared up for the school’s presidential debate.

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney weren’t there. But supporters of their causes were, answering questions as if their candidates would.

More than 400 students filled the auditorium for the hour-long debate, questions put together by a group of students interested in the political process. They touched on all the issues — Big Bird, jobs, immigration and Korea. It was all part of what the school says it’s an effort to get children excited about politics.

“If we can get them and show them or they catch on,” said Lori Gray, organizer of the event and eighth grade social studies teacher. “Then, wow, this is something that’s pretty cool. Then they’re going to take their nation and lead with it.”

Principal Todd Keele agreed.

“To create, that excitement, turn that light on for these kiddos,” said Keele. “Whether they’re Republican, Democratic — whatever, just to get them thinking and to be a part of  this process.”

That light seem to be on inside some of these kids already.
“This is a really important election,” said eighth grader Jaden Naplaez. “So this really helps us learn what topics are being talked about in the U.S. right now.”

“I thought a lot of things about the different candidates,” said seventh grader Caroline Puryear, who was one of the moderators. “And I learned completely different things about them.”

When asked if interest in the real debates would grow from these mock debates Molly Linder said, “I think it will because you can understand more of what they’re talking about.”

Teachers hope having this debate will interest them in the real debates and light a spark of interest to vote the rest of their lives.

“I hope that they continue to pay attention to the facts,” added Gray. “So when they do go to the polls that they actually make an informed decision.”

That decision will come Nov. 6 when the school hold its own mock presidential election, the same day as the grownups go out and vote.