Mainland students take the reins in mock election

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Mainland Regional High School senior Max Grossman of Linwood, center, helped coordinate the Stang Vote 2012 with senior Hannah Anderson of Linwood, who represented President Barak Obama, and junior John Petronis of Somers Point, who represented Mitt Romney. Photo by Suzanne Marino

LINWOOD – If an informed electorate is the model of good citizenship, then MainlandRegionalHigh School is a training ground for good citizens.

Advanced government teacher Brian Smith gave his students the background information on the candidates; they discussed issues, did research, and then he turned over the reins of the project to students.


The result was Stang Vote 2012, a schoolwide campaign that included a series of debates, campaign signs, stump speeches and students enmeshing themselves in the election process.

Thursday, Oct. 25 the debate centered on foreign policy and pitted Team Romney against Team Obama. Hannah Anderson took on the role of Barak Obama, with Adam Senack as Joe Biden. On the red side it was John Petronis taking on the persona of Mitt Romney with Cooper Terrell as Paul Ryan.

“I really let the students control this whole process,” Smith said. “They could make it as large or as small as they chose, but these kids have just taken this whole process and run with it – and the result is impressive.”

He said the project had students discussing the candidates’ views on China and trade policy, and looking closely at the economy, taxes and the environment.

“They were allowed to go into classrooms and give a stump speech at any time during the last two weeks. They hung up campaign signs and really got into it, and got the rest of the school excited about the election as well,” the teacher said. “This has been a great experience for our kids.”

The Stang Vote committee, led by senior Max Grossman of Linwood, consisted of eight students who prepared the questions for and moderated the debate.

The final tally gave the lion’s share of the votes to the president, who won 841-431 over Romney. The Electoral College vote was 523-15 in favor of Obama.

To make the ballot questions more pertinent to students, Smith said he came up with two questions that students could relate to. The first question was: “Is it a violation of your rights to be asked for identification in order to vote?” Students voted 918-356 that it is not a violation of their rights.

To the second question, “Should class rank be eliminated?” students voted 706-356 to retain the class rank system. 

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