Students struggle to maintain interest in election debate

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 12, 2000

More of the same is how some Natchez students viewed continued presidential election proceedings on Monday.

Classes at Trinity, Cathedral and Natchez High were among those paying close attention to television coverage as events in Florida and Washington, D.C., unfolded.

&uot;They’ve been saying the same thing for the past three weeks,&uot; said Sara Landry while watching election coverage with her class.

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Landry’s frustration is no different from that of many other students in her current events class at Trinity Episcopal Day School.

The middle school students have watching the election drama unfold on television and have discussed it in class. They have gathered information on the race to make an election notebook. But for many of them interest is starting to wane.

&uot;I think (Al)&160;Gore is dragging it out too long,&uot; said Grafton Pritchartt.

Jessica Marchbanks said she just wants something big to happen, such as when they say either Gov. George Bush or Vice President Al Gore can &uot;start packing to get in the White House&uot; or when they say &uot;the president is …&uot;

The current events class is an elective for middle school students at Trinity.

Teacher Millie Burke said the class is dominated by discussions and daily quizzes on current events. The class also allows students to express their opinions.

&uot;This is their class. I just kind of guide their discussion and we have some lively discussions,&uot; Burke said. The class &uot;just keeps them abreast on what’s going on in the world today.&uot;

In addition to Burke, other local teachers have been incorporating the presidential election into the classroom.

And much like the students at Trinity, other young people have tired of the process.

&uot;We’re discussing it and we’re disgusted,&uot;&160;said Libby Voss, a government teacher at Cathedral High School.

Voss said her students have been talking about the election on every level — executive, legislative and judicial — as they discuss the branches of government as part of their regular curriculum. But now the students are getting sick of the subject, she said.

&uot;We’re definitely putting it in the classroom but as far as their interest goes .. more and more are getting tired of it,&uot; Voss said. &uot;I don’t much blame (them).&uot;

The day of the election Voss promised the students they would know the name of the next president by that night. Now students are not letting her forget it, she said.

&uot;We’ve decided we’re not going to make any predictions&uot; about what will happen next, Voss said.

Bettie Minor, a government teacher at Natchez High School, said her students are taking a similar approach.

&uot;I told them to take the wait and see attitude,&uot; she said. &uot;That’s how I presented it to them.&uot;

Her students also have started a unit on the judiciary branch of government, a fitting study with what is happening with the U.S. Supreme Court now.

Minor said her classes have been giving brief updates on the election, but she plans more discussions once the court issues its ruling.

&uot;I haven’t really decided at this point just how I will inject it (into class discussions) but I know it’s going to be put in there,&uot; she said.