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Kingston high students play roles in mock presidential campaign

KINGSTON - With the race for the White House down to the wire, presidential politics took center stage Friday when students at Sanborn Regional High School, most of whom aren't old enough to vote, played the roles of the candidates in a mock rally.

The candidates tackled the big campaign issues, voicing their opinions on everything from the economy and health care to gay marriage and education.

The rally was organized by students in an elections class and looked a lot like a real presidential rally. Some students waved their campaign signs in support of President Obama's re-election bid and others supported his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Other students portrayed the running mates - Josh Gluck was Vice President Joe Biden and Ryan Allore was Congressman Paul Ryan - and some served as campaign managers and security officers with the Secret Service.

The school held a similar rally before the 2008 election.

"It's to get the school to pay attention to the political process," said teacher Evan Czyzowski, who teaches the elections class with Melinda Paradis.

Ben French, 17, who portrayed Romney, said he was a little stressed out last week while preparing his speech for the rally.

"Even though it was a mock rally, it was still stressful," French said, adding that he didn't feel very "politically educated" before taking the elections class.

Obama was played by Shane Waters, 17. Standing in front of his peers and delivering his speech about how a vote for "the other option is 100 steps back" was a nerve-wracking experience, especially since he memorized his speech, Waters said.

Still, he said, "It was a fantastic learning experience."

Waters has also been volunteering at Obama's campaign office in Exeter.

"Even though I can't vote, I can do whatever I can to get others to vote," he said.

Seniors Meredith Garcia and Rachel Colbert, both 18, will be casting votes for the first time Tuesday.

"I'm excited. People are trying to persuade me and I'm trying to figure out my own point of view. It's a little overwhelming when everybody's like, 'Vote for this person,' " said Garcia, a Romney supporter.

Colbert said she's learned a lot from the elections class.

"It's helped me to decide who I'm going to vote for independently," said Colbert, who's shared many political discussions with her parents over dinner.

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