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Learning about their civic duty

Local kids learn about national political process
With the presidential election only days away, change is in the air.
Even people who are years away from being eligible to cast their first vote are getting into the election spirit.
Change was the theme at a town hall debate at the Boys and Girls Club of Ennis Friday evening, but the candidates debating weren’t McCain or Obama. In fact, they weren’t from either major party. Both candidates were members of the Boys and Girls Club, and they are campaigning to become president of the club.
First, from the See Party were Ciara Manuel and her running mate Jasmin Andrade. From the Free Party were Camerion Perry and his running mate Nadia Crayton. Both parties are seeking to make things better for the youth at the Boys and Girls Club.
Korey McCrady, a coach at the Boys and Girls Club said they are holding the election because they want the kids to learn about the processes involved in a national election. With this year being an election year, it seemed like a great time for them to learn, McCrady said.
He said the person elected will be the club’s president for one year, and just like in American politics, the vice president will take over if anything happens to the president. There will be another election in a year.
This debate was the second that has been held. The first debate had members of the press, consisting of about 10 students asking the questions. This time, it was a town hall style of debate, with questions being asked by anyone who had one.
The first question was regarding the club’s “Power Hour,” which is an hour designated for the students to work on their homework. Perry, the presidential candidate from the Free Party, said he would change it to 15 minutes. Manuel, the presidential candidate from the See Party, said she would cancel Power Hour. During his rebuttal, Perry said he would cancel it as well.
“We’ve been at school all day, working,” Manuel said. “It’s called homework, not club work.”
When asked how they would change Boys and Girls Club, Manuel said she would make the restrooms more comfortable, get better snacks and new equipment. Perry said he would make the restrooms have more privacy.
Then the Free Party was asked if they would get new snacks as well. At this point, McCrady told the youth the candidates couldn’t just say they were going to get new things. He said they had to say how they would get them.
The Free Party’s vice presidential candidate, Crayton, said they would have fund-raisers.
“Those snacks are stale,” she said. “You could break a tooth on those things.”
Andrade, vice presidential candidate for the See Party, agreed there should be fund-raisers to get new snacks.
The next question was about time designated for physical activity in the gym. A student asked if they could be allowed to play video games in the gym instead of doing more physical activities.
Manuel responded by saying, “You don’t have to do the same thing as everyone else, because you’re not everyone else.”
However, Perry disagreed, saying there should be a compromise, allowing video games for a short amount of time.
“You all have dreams and you aren’t going to reach them by playing video games,” he said.
The next question took a more serious turn. The candidates were asked what they would do about the problem of stealing at the club. Perry said thieves would face serious consequences if they were caught. Manuel said that if she were elected she would get locks for every locker.
When the candidates were asked about the selection of movies, Manuel said someone could bring a movie every Friday. Perry, however, said they shouldn’t be worrying about those kinds of things and the candidates should focus on helping the club’s youths.
This prompted Perry’s campaign manager, Darius Jackson, to say, “We aren’t doing this for us; we’re doing it for you.”
When each candidate was asked what he or she would do as president, Perry said he would try to solve the problem of bullies.
“I’m looking around, and I see a lot of bullies,” Perry said. “I won’t stand for it, and you shouldn’t either.”
Manuel said she would work provid club members with what they wanted.
“You will get everything you want if you vote for me,” she said during closing remarks.
Danna Polk-Brim, the Program Director for Boys and Girls Club, said the debate went pretty well, but that the kids were still learning.
McCrady said he hopes the kids get a lot out of this experience.
“We hope they learn there is something out there bigger than them and they can do anything they put their mind to,” McCrady said.

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Posted by on Oct 27 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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