Classes Model Real-World Town House Debates


Devin Charles discussed legalizing marijuana after an audience member questioned his stance.

By Brian Hughes

Mr. Smith’s 12th grade government classes held debates in the library on Dec.1 and 2. These discussions were modeled after real-world town house debates, with mock presidential candidates discussing important issues in front of an active audience. Candidates–some dressed professionally–attempted to tackle topics such as LGBTQ rights, abortion, drug use and crime prevention.

The different candidates fought to establish the strength of their platform over the others. Jhanele Saula and Jason Lagana had a heated debate about crime prevention, Chris Glover and Raz debated LGBTQ rights, and Jhanele Saula and Yusuf Zabun argued on gun control.

Mr. Smith monitored the sessions, limiting speaking time and guiding candidates back on track. Audience members were also allowed to offer insight and ask questions during each showdown. Ben Gebhardt, for instance, asked about the legalization of gay marriage in America. 

These debates help teach students the communication skills and democratic participation that is so important in adult life. Through both the candidates and audience, democracy is alive and well in the new generation.