Campaigning for president

BLAIRSBURG – While America’s presidential election has been decided, students in

Leslie Keehn’s Northeast Hamilton sixth grade Social Studies class are in the midst of a grueling campaign for president.

At NEH, the candidates are a little on the eccentric-side: cartoon character SpongeBob Squarepants, “The Big Bang Theory” germaphobe Sheldon Cooper and North Pole pixie, Buddy the Elf.

The sixth grade students were responsible for researching possible candidates by studying their personality, choosing a candidate and developing a campaign platform to reflect the candidate’s persona, said Keehn.

On Wednesday, the candidates were no where to be found while their representatives debated and fielded constituents’ questions during Keehn’s social studies class.

Nate Rapp and Anna Utrera, representing Sheldon Cooper of CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” presented a platform that would make school more fun while Kylie McDonald and Trevor Hammer spoke on SpongeBob Squarepants’ ability to stop violence with his karate chop.

Buddy the Elf, represented by Alex Hauge and Melida Antonio, promoted peace by advocating love and cheer.

The Social Studies curriculum tied in well with the national election last fall, said Keehn, who introduced the project to coincide with the 2012 election.

While students observed national, state and local elections, they also visited with US Sen. Charles Grassley, and Gov. Terry Branstad, said Keehn.

In addition, Keehn took the students to a polling precinct during the general election to observe the voting process first hand.

“This lent itself well during an election year,” said Keehn.

After conducting their initial research, the students developed their individual campaign platforms based on that information and they took the process seriously, said Keehn.

Rapp and Utrera settled on name recognition in choosing the well-known character of Sheldon Cooper from the top-rated TV show, “The Big Bang Theory”.

“People who haven’t heard about (a certain candidate) would have a hard time deciding who to vote for,” said Rapp.

The process made students aware of the issue of demographics where younger students may not know the Sheldon Cooper character while older students may not be drawn to SpongeBob Squarepants who appeals to a younger audience, said Keehn.

After deciding on their candidate, the students were responsible for developing an ad campaign with slogans and making posters which grace the halls of the school.

Wednesday’s debate gave each candidate’s team a chance to share their views with voters.

“They did fairly well as this was their first debate and for some of them, it was the first time they have ever spoken in front of a group,” commended Keehn.

The NEH students, faculty and staff go to the polls on Monday.