January 6, 2004 > American High School's Annual Mock Convention
American High School's Annual Mock Convention
by Susana Nuñez
Although the national Election Day isn't until November, it's election time for American High School at their annual Mock Convention. This event - only seniors are required to participate - is one of the school's last long-standing traditions. It is a simulation of an actual election, yet all of the "candidates" and participants are a part of one party, the American Party. On January 16th, this year's Mock Convention will determine which candidate will win the party's presidential candidacy.
Each candidate represents a different "wing" of the political spectrum ranging Reactionary (Stalin-esk) to a Radical (think Fidel Castro). Voters will have a variety of pros and cons to consider before making their final decision on the day of the convention. This year's Reactionary candidate, Jeff Fudenna, has already sparked the usual shock effect with his extreme views, which can cause many to forget that each candidate is merely playing a role. The Conservative candidate, Steven Seipert, is part of a legacy of Mock Convention candidates; some of his older siblings were conservative candidates as well when they attended AHS. Moving along the spectrum, Moderate candidate, constantly accused of being "wishy-washy," is Jeremy Inman. The only female in the race, Liberal candidate Susana Nu–ez, has proved, along with Inman, to have a strong following. Radical candidate, Andy Holguin, has endured accusations of being a communist, yet he describes himself as a "democratic socialist."
With such clashing ideology and extreme viewpoints, candidates, as well as the rest of the senior class, are urged to express themselves in weekly discussions called "planks." At each plank meeting, a controversial topic is discussed by the entire senior class, with meeting moderators and "security" in charge. Questions pertaining to the topic are asked over a microphone and anyone who desires to express their feelings and opinions on the subject, while the entire class bears witness, has the chance to practice their right to freedom of speech. This year's senior class chose the topics of environment, healthcare, crime/ law and punishment, economics, abortion, and the war in Iraq to cover in the weeks before Election Day. The meetings, as well as an all-day candidate debate, held on December 9th, have given the senior class a chance to see which candidate has the best platform.
While each candidate prepares and strategizes for planks, debates, and Election Day with their campaign team, the rest of the senior class has divided into special interest groups. Groups such as the Fashion Police, against cosmetic testing on animals, and T.A.U.D. (Teenagers About Underage Drinking) each choose a candidate to endorse. The groups then make signs, similar to those used in real conventions, which publicize their choice.. This year, groups can have no more than twenty people so with over 300 seniors at AHS, there will be plenty of opportunities for candidates to seek endorsements.
Aside from direct student participation, one of the highlights of the event is an address by a guest speaker. Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison honored the class of 2001. Since the event is student run and teacher supervised, seniors are in charge of finding a guest speaker for the event. Those in charge of selecting a speaker have been silent about his or her identity.
Many seniors haven't reached the legal voting age quite yet, but Mock Convention has served to prepare them for the real thing and on January 16th, they will see first-hand just how much of a difference a single vote can make.