Boones Creek Elementary School held a presidential debate Friday afternoon and both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney were present to answer questions from the students.
Shayne Pearson, who played Romney and Ashton Brewer, who played Obama, were dressed up for their roles in a mock debate for their peers, answering questions about becoming the president, taxes and education.
By their sides were their “wives” Madi Mahoney, who played Ann Romney, and Soraya Nickles, who played Michelle Obama. Both are fourth-graders at the school.
Pearson and Brewer said they were both very excited and honored to be playing the roles of the candidates.
“I can’t believe that me and Ashton were picked out of the whole school to be Governor Romney and President Obama,” Pearson said.
Both said they had been studying for their roles, trying to get into character for Friday’s debate.
“I learned that President Obama ... was the first African American president ever of the United States of America,” Brewer said. “For me, that is just plain awesome.”
Joyce Noto, BCES school counselor and coordinator of the debate, said she has been planning this for about three weeks, and has been prepping students on candidate information, like their stands on education, the economy, as well as fun questions such as their favorite foods.
“I have been really surprised at how much the students really knew about who’s running for president,” Noto said. “I hope our students can learn a lot about our candidates and in their minds they can decide who they would like to see to be president. They’re going to be grown up in a few years and ... they will know more about what the process of this is, of voting, and how important it is to vote.”
During the presentation, students, one-by-one, stepped up to the microphone to ask their specific question to the candidates, which brought sounds of laughter and applause with some of the answers.
BCES Principal Teresa Leonard said she was excited her students could participate in the debate.
“We were so excited to be able to press upon our students the importance of exercising their right to vote as citizens of our country. We were very impressed with the students who played the part of President Obama and Governor Romney and they used a lot of their own talents in answering the questions,” Leonard said.
She said the debate served as a precursor for the school’s mock election Tuesday, where students will be able to vote electronically in the computer lab and will even have to present their registration card in order to vote.
“It’s something they’ll never forget,” Leonard said. “Research shows that the earlier the students learn about this right and are able to participate in this type of thing, the more they are likely to vote later on in their lives.”
Other participants in Friday’s mock debate included Secret Service actors Hunter Bush, Caden Church, Jessica Stacy, John “J.T.” Thompson and teacher Mike Mason as the agents’ leader. Andrea Austin, Jesse Franks and Anastasia Cardwell sang the national anthem before the debate, and Thad Noto was the debate moderator.