Students research candidates, policies

Published 12:13 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

There are lots of places where one would expect to hear chatter about presidential debates and the 2016 election. Senior English class isn’t one of them.

But students in Dawn Thompson’s Andalusia High School honors English classes have just completed an assignment in which they researched presidential candidates and wrote persuasive papers.

Yesterday, they shared their thoughts about candidates and the research process.


Olivia Jones and Amy Hines partnered to research Marco Rubio, the first-term Florida senator.

Olivia Jones

Olivia Jones

“He has a really good plan for higher ed,” Jones explained of his Right to Know Before You Go plan. “He wants people to know before college, what they will pay, and what their debt will be when come out.”

Hines said she liked Rubio’s focus on the younger generation, including his higher ed plan, and his proposal to increased the child care tax credit.

Katrine Christensen said she wrote in favor of Rubio because she agrees with his values.



“He is Catholic, so I agree with him on a personal level,” she said. “He has a lot of ideas that will help everybody. With abortion, he wants to make it so that companies with religious affiliations don’t have to provide birth control for employees if they don’t want to.”

She also likes his focus on families.

“He wants to focus on businesses and families,” she said. “We need to get back down to the basic values of families. We have to fix ourselves before we try to fix the world.”

Rubio was not AnaSara Kipp’s first choice – she liked Chris Christie’s performance in the second debate. But her preliminary research, she switched to Rubio. She believes he would make the country safer, more family-centered, and more immigrant friendly.

“We would be safer because he wants to reverse budget cuts in the military,” she said. “He’s more family-centered. He’s Catholic, as am I. He’s against abortion, and he has a paid leave plan for new parents.

“His immigration policy is that he wants to make it more appealing to become a legal. He’s going to offer incentives for those who go through the process.”

An important part of the assignment, Thompson said, was that students had to also write a refutation of their positions.

“In my refutation, I wrote that some may argue Rubio is too inexperienced,” Kipp said. “He has as much experience now as Obama did before he was elected. I also stated that people want to attack for inexperience. Neither of the (front runners) have any political experience.”


Colton Elmore

Colton Elmore

Colton Elmore said he and Chandler Jones decided to write about Donald Trump because of all the hype surrounding his candidacy.

“(Trump) hasn’t done much politically,” he said. “He has a lot of money, and that allows him to get his name out there very easily.

“When we started off, we thought he was pretty good,” Elmore said. “His plans are pretty good, but when you look at them, it’s not likely they will work. I decided I probably wouldn’t vote for hm. He doesn’t have the experience for effective leadership.”

Jones said some of what The Donald says is “just ridiculous.”

“Like building war a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and making Mexico pay for it. In the end, he’s not the type of person who needs to lead a country,” Jones said.

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

“He’s saying all the things everybody wants to hear, and that everybody else wants to say, but is too scared of the media. He doesn’t care.”

Jones said Trump also repeats himself a lot

“He can’t go five minutes without talking about immigration or China or Mexico. That’s all he has.”

Sisters Elizabeth and Hannah McCalman also researched Trump.

“There was so much going on about him. He was at the top of the leader board, so we wanted to find out more about him. I feel like he says harsh and rash stuff.”

Hannah said Trump makes some good points, but some are far-fetched.

“A lot of what he says is unrealistic,” she said.

Hannah Barker said she wrote about Trump because she had planned to vote for him.

“It was so hard to find articles that were for him instead of against him,” she said. “I ready his campaign website where he has his policies, but he never went into details.’

Based on her research, she said, she believes if elected president he would create a trade war.

She also has found some of his comments about women – particularly broadcaster Megyn Kelly and presidential candidate Carly Fiorina – offensive.


Cole Bush

Cole Bush

Cole Bush said he researched Bernie Sanders.

“He’s a very interesting fellow,” he said. “He’s on the Democratic side of things, and has some radical points. He wants college tuition to be free.

“He’s interesting and made a for a good paper.”



Julian Birk

Julian Birk

“I chose Bernie Sanders because I’m gonna vote for him or Hillary Clinton,” Julian Birk said. “ I like their ideas.

“I believe in my beliefs,” he said. “If you call him a socialist, in that case, I’m proud to be a socialist.”

Joshua Helms said at first he thought the assignment would be boring.

“After a while, it was kinda fun,” he said.

Joshua Helms

Joshua Helms

“We were more interested in candidates.”

Helms and his project partner chose Sanders because they liked the idea of free tuition.

“At the end, I found out his policies probably not work, so I wrote against him,” he said.



Ashlen Payton and her partner, Peyton Prevett, researched Hillary Clinton.



“I think she’d make a great president,” Payton said. “She’s all about equality. I feel like a lot of people don’t like the fact a woman could be president. She doesn’t try to downplay that at all. She’s very confident.”

Destini Benson said she also researched Clinton, and feels she would make a good president.

“For a lot of people, she always catches fire; I don’t know why,” she said. “But she never backs down. She’s been through it before.”

Charlie Brock and Belle Spurlin also wrote about Clinton, but argued against her.

“My partner and I did a satire on why you should vote for Hillary Clinton,” Brock said.

Charlie Brock

Charlie Brock

An important lesson they learned, he said, is how difficult it is to write actual satire.

Spurlin said their satire was about her honesty and comfort on the witness stand.

“We talked about free tuition, too,” Spurlin said.

Belle Spurlin

Belle Spurlin

“She plans to support free tuition by taxing high income tax payers.”

Jamie Browder said there’s nothing funny about her support of Clinton

“I’m for Hillary Clinton 100 percent,” she said. “I heard everyone saying she’s playing the gender card. She’s been saying, ‘I am using the gender card. That’s right where I want to be dealt in.’

“Women are still paid less. They are attacked on college campuses, and not given enough respect,” she said.


Jim Webb



Jeremy Boyd and Jeffrey Ammons researched former senator and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb.

“He actually dropped out of the race the day after we started the paper,” Boyd said. “We watched the Democratic debate and kinda thought, ‘Why not?’

“He had an ‘A’ rating form the NRA, and he’s for less less restrictions on guns,” Boyd said. “Those are all Republican values.”

Ammons said he liked what Webb said about guns.

“He said people with a lot of people can hire body guards,” Ammons said. “The middle class can’t afford that, and need to be able to protect themselves.”



Taran Carrasco and Halle Burkhardt researched Carly Fiorina.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say we think we’re going to vote for her,” Carrasco said. “We talked about Hewlett-Packard, which didn’t end successfully for her.”

While many believe she lacks political experience, Carrasco said Fiorina has been involved in politics.

“She’s been on political councils, and advised John McCain,” she said. “She has what it takes.”

Burkhardt said many have expressed concern about a woman being president.

“Between her or Hillary, I’d choose her,” she said. “She has morals and ideas and confidence. I think she would be good.”