Members of the KCS senior class and members of the area political parties hold forum.
Students, some still too young to vote, actively promoted political party platform awareness for a public discussion on the issues surrounding the 2012 presidential candidates on Nov. 1 at Keene Valley Central School.
Six senior students, each with a party community member, held the forum, representing the Democratic, Republican, Green, Socialism and Liberation, and the Constitutional party.
“This is not a debate but an educational forum,” said Brad Hurlburt, KCS Social studied teacher said.
For the democratic party, senior Hannah McCabe was joined by Phyliss Buchanon.
For the Republican Party, KCS senior Jeffrey Bruha was joined by Republican Assembly Candidate for Warren County Dan Stec.
For the Green Party, KCS senior Sam Balzac was joined by Green Party member Steve Ruzbacki.
For the Socialism and Liberation, KCS senior Jack Van Wie was joined by Ray Losso.
For the Libertarian party senior Victoria Patenaude was joined by Monique Weston.
For the Constitution, KCS senior Athena Pepe was joined by Arlene Geibe.
All members of the six parties represented on the New York State ballot for president an opportunity to equally talk about five talking points that the six students in Brad Hurlburt’s Government Class selected after listening to the three presidential debates between President Barak Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
“One of the goals of the evening was to continue to have the Republican and Democratic party represented but to also let people be informed about the perspectives of the four additional parties that are fielding a candidate on the NYS ballot,” Hurlburt said.
The students began the forum by introducing the core values and platforms of each political party they were representing. The students followed their introductions with five talking points: climate change, civil liberties, war on terror, world economy, and social issues such as the party’s position on Roe vs. Wade and race equality.
For the Democratic party, Hannah McCabe said th party believes the country and is stronger together than if everyone was on their own.
Sam Balzac, student representative for the Green party, said the things he learned about the green party follow many of is personal beliefs and desires to work harder for the environment.
“The Green New Deal seeks to reduce unemployment by creating government jobs, slow down climate change by encouraging the development of wind and solar technologies, fix our financial situation by reorganizing America's banking system, preserve democracy by expanding voting rights, and decrease military spending," Balzac said.
After the forum, Balzac said the research project had him thinking differently about the green party.
"I am very concerned about the environment and I think we need to do more to protect it," Balzac said. "Many of the values of the green party reflect my own, if you had asked me before I started this project I would have said my political opinions match the democratic party."
On the war on terror, Jack Van Wie said the socialism party's policy on war is to stay out of different countries and let the governments abroad figure out their own problems. The party's stance brings up the major differences between the socialism party and the republican and democratic parties.
The six different parties were contacted and invited to send an adult member to work with their student representative and also participate in the forum.
Assembly candidate Dan Stec drove from Albany, taking a break from campaigning to participate as the Republican party member.
"I thought Certainly these kinds of forums are important for young people to learn, these are high school seniors they are about to become tax payers and voters , so they are entering adulthood this is part of the process and part of their learning experience," Stec said. "I though it was great that they invited me I did think the students did a great job researching each partys position on things and it was a good evening."
Members of lesser mainstream parties also came out in support of political education.
“I am an Essex County Green and I just thought it was a wonderful idea, to get the word out in other school districts, I hope in the future we’ll get some other schools involved,” said Steve Ruzbacki, Green Party Adult representative.
“I thought this was such a wonderful opportunity to have the people we had to talk about issues I’m really very honored to be part of this,” Ruzbacki said.
The information students presented were based on research conducted by the student in the Government class taught by Hurlburt.
" I did have the students do a research project for a grade in class on their chosen parties, but I did not give them a grade or credit for participating in the forum," Hurlburt said. "They did it just for the experience and community service.
Hurlburt said the six seniors are all in a bridge class Hulburt teaches for North Country Community College. The six fulfill their graduation requirement for Participation in Government, and they also get three credits through NCCC for an introduction to Political Science course.