Mock debate teaches west suburban middle school students a lesson in time for Election Day

November 6, 2012

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(Becky Vevea/WBEZ)
Charles Zayed, left, and Gianni Frasca, right, debate each other during social studies class at Clarendon Hills Middle School.

Today is Election Day, but a group of middle school students in the west suburbs had their say yesterday.

That’s because it was debate day in Room 222 at Clarendon Hills Middle School. Teacher Lori Stellwagen handed out note sheets and ballots and explained the rules of the debate.

“Each person will get a minute to respond, whether it’s Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan or Joe Biden or Barack Obama,” she said to the class.

Much like in the adult debate, eighth graders Gianni Frasca, invoking Mitt Romney, and Charles Zayed, invoking President Barack Obama, didn’t hold back.

“Mr. Governor, I’m speaking, have some respect,” Zayed said.
“Twenty-five million unemployed… eight percent unemployment,” Frasca replied.
“We’re talking about Latino votes, not unemployment,” Zayed responded. “Are you trying to dance the subject?”

Tense moments drew reaction from classmates, and both Zayed and Frasca echoed the Obama and Romney platforms, occasionally straying into their own personal views when it came to issues of abortion and gay rights.

The debate between Zayed and Frasca, who admit they’re friends in real life, is part of a week-long social studies lesson at CHMS and nearby Hinsdale Middle School.

After the debate, eighth graders cast their ballots, but in District 181, it’s not just a popular vote that will determine the outcome here.

Teachers also set up an Electoral College, which could make for another lesson in electoral politics this week.