SPARTA, NJ- Diamond team history teacher Brian Neal had a unique project for his students to gain a better understanding of the election process as they finished up a unit of study of the Executive Branch of United States government.
Neal's seventh grade Civics students from each of his classes ran election campaigns. The Mock Presidential Election Project included debates, advertisements, speeches and the responsibility of managing a campaign budget. The assignment required that each of the candidates develop a campaign platform based on actual school related issues.
The campaign budget was determined by a roll of the dice, multiplying the number on the dice by 1000. Students had to develop a budget and maintain an Account Tracking Sheet. Every part of the campaign had to be approved by Neal in advance or risk losing financing.
Each of the candidates' campaigns had a Presidential nominee who also served as speech writer. There was a Vice Presidential nominee serving as the campaign manager as well. There was an accountant for each campaign. The rest of the group was the advertising staff working to promote the candidates, including creating the campaign slogan. All of the members of the campaign had to work closely together toward the goal of getting their candidates elected.
The campaign began on March 31 culminating with the election. The ballots were cast on April 9. While Neal asserts, "the election is more about the process," a winning team was elected. That winning team was the New DiWrecktion Party with President Rebecca Greenberg, Emily Dilger, Vice President and Julia Loewen having served as the campaign accountant.
Neal summed it up, "The kids are very excited and more interested than I have ever seen them." Making Civics relevant to 12 and 13 year old seventh graders can be a challenge and is the rationale behind the project. For the next unit on the Judicial branch of government Neal's students will participate in a mock trail "The Murder of Humpty Dumpty."