Students immersed in political process


October 18, 2002|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE INTENSE arguments in Cynthia Snyder's political science class at South Carroll High School have provided an invaluable learning experience.

For the past two months, students have researched the two candidates in Maryland's gubernatorial race, analyzed campaign techniques and voting patterns and, most important, studied the issues.

They will present a mock debate between Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend from 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the high school. The debate is open to the public.

"It's just been phenomenal," said Snyder, who has taught political science at South Carroll for the past 21 years. "The comments I get are about how well organized it is."

As a class, students decided topics to be covered, wrote the debate questions and researched each candidate's stand on issues using newspaper accounts and the candidates' Web sites. Their goal is to make other students aware of the importance of voting.

"It's really important they know the issues," said Lora Bingaman, a junior from Mount Airy.

Lora says issues such as Maryland's anticipated $1.7 billion deficit, bringing slot machines to the state, health care, abortion, school crowding and funding, transportation and state gun laws have resulted in heated debates during class.

"The class was just about evenly split, and we have definitely had some good arguments. But that's what it's all about, and it's important that our class did this," she said. "It's been a good chance for us to participate in the political process."

During her years at South Carroll, Snyder has had her classes present at least four similar debates.

"Not only have they learned what the candidates stand for, but they have learned group interaction. This has been a hands-on, group-oriented experience," she said.

The debate format will allow two moderators, Lora Bingaman and Justin Coates, a junior from Westminster, to question the candidates. Alie Armitage, a junior, will present Townsend's views. Chris Smith, a senior, will portray Ehrlich.

"We're trying to present a real debate as it should be," said Justin, who aspires to hold political office. "The last debate between the candidates was pathetic. There was so much bickering. We want everyone to come away knowing where each candidate stands on the issues."

The class has invited Townsend and Ehrlich, state legislators and school administrators to the debate. The class has not received a commitment from either candidate's campaign. Anyone who would like to attend is asked to call ahead to ensure sufficient seating.

Information: 401-751-3575.

Dinner auction

The Mount Airy Elementary School PTA continues to accept business and individual donations for its annual Holiday Dinner Auction.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 23 at the school.

Guests will be able to bid on two round-trip airline tickets to anywhere in the United States or Bahamas, a bus trip to Atlantic City, ski trips, Ravens tickets or 100 gallons of heating fuel.

"This is one of the PTA's largest fund-raisers," said Susan Cole, dinner auction chairwoman. "But through this particular fund-raiser, literally every child in the school benefits, with the money going toward things like field trips, educational programs and books and computers."

The committee will accept donations until the night of the auction. The deadline for ads and items to be listed in the dinner auction catalog is Monday.

Information: 301-829-3913.

MAVFC breakfast

Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company will sponsor a buffet breakfast open to the public from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday at its activities building at Route 27 and Twin Arch Road.

The menu will include pancakes, biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, eggs, hot apples, mixed fruit and beverages. The cost is $6; $3 for children ages 6 to 10; and free for children younger than age 5.

Information: 301-829-0100, 301-831-7454 or 410-795-8055.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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