Dubuque school holds mock Republican Convention - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque school holds mock Republican Convention

Table Mound Elementary has been holding mock conventions since 1968. Table Mound Elementary has been holding mock conventions since 1968.

Rick Perry may currently be trailing the other GOP candidates in Iowa, but he came out on top Tuesday in one local contest.

Students at Table Mound Elementary School in Dubuque staged their own version of the Republican National Convention is an effort to teach kids a lesson in Democracy.

Students, acting as delegates from every state and US territory, gathered in the school gym to cast their votes.

One little girl, wearing the same construction paper hat with a Hawkeye logo on it as her classmates (i.e. fellow Iowa delegates), stepped up to the microphone set up in the middle of the gym.

"The great state of Iowa, the Hawkeye state, proudly casts its 28 votes for the next president of the United States, Michele Bachmann," she read from a sheet of paper in her hand.

Opinions of course, differed, as the votes were read for Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and the rest of the candidates. The goal, however, was unified: to teach students to engage in the political process of their country.

Cyndie Nelson is the convention's faculty chairperson.

"I think people decided this was one of the best ways to teach kids about participatory democracy, and it really gets them involved," she said.

The convention is a Table Mound traditions that dates back more than 40 years.

"Generations have remembered this, since 1968," principal Brenda Mitchell said. "People still remember the mock convention, and what it did for them was, you know, to instill this sense of responsibility."

This is Mitchell's first year as principal at Table Mound Elementary.

"I just sat in awe," she mused. "Awe with the kids: what they've learned, what they'll take away from this."

She said she was also impressed by the amount of planning it takes to pull off the convention.

The kindergartners and first and second graders learned about the states they represented, while many of the older students had the added responsibilities of campaigning for candidates.

Fifth graders Ashley Meyer and Adi Canganelli were "campaign chairs" for Ron Paul.

"You have to have a lot of leadership if you want to be a campaign chair," Meyer said, reflecting on what she's learned.

"We've had to make a lot of posters and we had to write a speech for him, and then we had to give our speech yesterday," Canganelli said.

Nelson was impressed with the students.

"We had campaign speeches, we've had signs in the hall, we had stump speeches all last week, and they went to every room and did a short stump speech. It was amazing," she said.

Students, Nelson said, focused on four platforms: sustainability, education, job creation and immigration.

"I think that the kids, especially in the upper grades, had a sense of the type of issues that face citizens," Mitchell said. "I think it's really about the citizenship that we have, the rights that we have and the responsibilities we have as citizens of the United States."

It's a lesson the more than 400 students may elect to carry with them the rest of their lives.

The school holds the convention every four years, for whichever party is not currently in the White House.

This was the school's 12th convention. Ron Paul, for the record, came in second.

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