JACKSON TWP. The students in AP Government and Politics classes at Jackson High School held a special event on March 9 to debate for the 2020 presidential candidates.


There were a few differences with this debate compared to the national debates that have going on across the country for months.


The students were the candidates. They were supposed to dress like, sound like and exhibit some of the same mannerisms as the real candidates. Another difference was that five of the candidates running on the Democratic side were debating one candidate on the Republican side, President Donald J. Trump, and they were all together on one stage.


There were students acting as former Vice President Joe Biden; Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar; Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and President Trump. Some of the candidates wore suits and others were more casually dressed.


Matthew Nedelk played President Trump at the last round of debates. He dressed in presidential style with a blue suit, white shirt, red tie and a red ballcap that had Trump imprinted on it.


Students playing other candidates in the debate included Zade Nashawati as Pete Buttigieg, Nathan Sisson as Joe Biden, Patrick Tawil as Michael Bloomberg, Owen Lepsky as Bernie Sanders and Verna Zhu as Elizabeth Warren.


The moderator was AP teacher Christopher Amedeo. The students in his class prepared for the debates for weeks. There were three periods throughout the day when a different group of students represented the different candidates. The Lecture Hall at the high school was packed full of students from other classes.


The moderator asked questions of each candidate about health care, gun control, education, immigration and other issues important to voters.


“In addition to the debate research and preparation, students were required to develop a propaganda campaign and materials,” said Amedeo. “And, each candidate delivered stump speeches in class. Some of the students have demonstrated the characteristics of the candidates including some of the students playing Sen. Sanders and President Trump.”


Students attending the debates sat quietly and listened intently as the close to an hour-long debate progressed.


“The students playing the candidiates have been watching the debates on television to get an understanding of the candidate’s views on all of the issues so that they can deliver remarks as the candidate themselves would,” Amedeo said.