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Archive for Thursday, April 8, 1999

STUDENTS GET INSIDE VIEW OF POLITICS

April 8, 1999

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Lawrence High School students dissect campaigns the day after the elections.

After hours spent making telephone calls, putting signs in yards and walking door-to-door to deliver fliers for their campaigns, they can get back to work.

That is, after they've written a 20-page paper about the experience.

Lawrence High School students in Paul Stuewe's Advanced Placement U.S. Politics class are almost finished with an assignment that put them right in the thick of city and school board campaigns. At the beginning of the semester, students chose a candidate to work for; in the weeks since they have learned firsthand the ins and outs of running for elective office.

Grades are based on a series of completed assignments within the campaign, including an interview with the candidate, hours logged and what the experience taught them. Whether a candidate won the race doesn't determine a student's grade, Stuewe said.

"Your vote really does count," he told students. "You've all been very visible in the campaigns, and now you know somebody personally who is in a position of power in Lawrence."

Students said they learned more about politics by working on the campaigns, and most went with their candidate to the courthouse as the results came in.

"All the candidates seemed to know their role," senior Becky Blue said. "As soon as they won they went over and did TV, radio and newspaper interviews."

Blue said she would consider working on other campaigns in the future.

"It gives us a lot of experience with the government process," she said. "It's important to know how the political process works."

Christy McCormick said the experience changed her opinions of local politics.

"I've always been interested and always wanted to be a part of it, but up until now I've felt disillusioned with the city commission," she said. "I thought they didn't really care and now I think if I have a problem I can go, 'Hey, what is this?'"

Like many of the 80 students who took part in the project, McCormick said she would consider running for public office one day.

"I was thinking something more like the Kansas Legislature," she said.

That's the attitude Stuewe was hoping would infect his students.

"I hope they all run for some kind of local office someday, no matter where they live," he said.

-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is jwatson@ljworld.com.

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