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Townsend Harris High School held its annual kick off rally for this year’s Election Simulation, triggering a massive amount of enthusiasm within the members of the senior class. This upcoming election is especially thrilling, with bold personalities like Donald Trump and the first female candidate for president, Hillary Clinton. The kick off rally took place on Friday, September 23.
Senior Misbah Pochi, who is playing Hillary Clinton, remarked, “It was a bit nerve wracking, but I think I was able to portray myself like I wanted to because of my friends who are always supportive in everything.”
Senior Daniel Khaldarov comments on his own role as Donald Trump saying, “Trump is just very patriotic and it’s fun to play that out.”
Senior Michal Davydov also recounted her experience playing Donald Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, saying, “It’s nice knowing I’m standing alongside a very supportive and amazing team who only wants to further our cause.” Michal, like many other candidates, also notes how this Election Simulation has sparked her political interest. “Playing Melania really opens up my views on the actual election and gives me that extra edge to pay attention to politics, something I wouldn’t normally do as it’s not of interest to me,” she stated.
Senior Michelle Bria, who is part of the Green Party Campaign, added, “The kick off rally had such an amazing and energetic vibe to it. Both the candidates and the special interest groups were enthusiastic to share their beliefs with the rest of us.”
Many were also impressed with the improvements made this year. “Every year it gets better,” said History teacher Dr. Linda Steinmann. “The number of candidates that came prepared was greater and it was dynamic. Sometimes you see students who were kind of quiet in class come out and really amaze you. The timing was good. Last year we had an issue with underclassmen, but this year there was a lot of room. I give credit to the cafeteria people for handling that,” she explained. “Maybe next year, we might have the kick off rally on the campus.”
Principal Rosemarie Jahoda was especially enthusiastic as she experienced her first Election Simulation kick off rally. She remarked, “I’m extremely impressed with every candidate. They were all so articulate and moving. I support all of the candidates, parties, and special interest groups and admire how they all pushed through.”
Senior Brandon Jagdhar comments on Trump’s role in this election saying, “The only reason I had more interest in this election is because of Trump’s character. I think it was played well, and the fact that everyone seemed to play along and cheer for him made it seem more of an entertaining joke than a serious speech.”
While some students were thoroughly engaged and ecstatic about the presidential candidates this year, others were more cautious. Senior Sanjida Akter says, “Trump’s passionate voice and way of saying it made the atmosphere immediately tense…My concerns is that yes, radicalism is a serious issue, but Trump never knows how to address it maturely without perpetrating negative rhetoric at the same time… rhetoric which seems harmless when spoken, but it is us Muslims, who wear headscarves and have friends and family who are identifiably Muslim and face harassment and life threats, who really understand how harmful his words are.”
Senior Erela Datuowei also comments on the role played by Trump this year. “I think Trumps’ character was perfect. Maybe, a little too perfect. It’s difficult to achieve that level of acting,” says Erela. “I just hope people remember that they are all playing parts and that the students don’t take this as a free for all to impose their views on others because that usually ends in arguments and rivalries.”
Senior Qing Zhu notes the issues that may appear during this election and reasons, “A lot of social issues are going to be raised because many of the students are aware of these issues due to social media.”
Social media has also increased the popularity of THHS’s Election Simulation as filmmakers, alumni Alexandra Stergiou and Lexi Henigman Duffy, have chosen to make a documentary featuring the simulation. For the past two weeks, Alexandra and Lexi have been filming the senior government classes. THHS has great expectations for the documentary as it features an election that is most controversial and memorable.
With the completion of the kick off rally, candidates, special interest groups, and campaigns will now tackle the Election Stimulation in full swing.