Contemporary Issues Class Takes On First Selectman Debate

These Students Assist in the ELHS-hosted First Selectman Debate

by Ella Bradley & Heather Lally

Contemporary Issues is a course that strives to educate students on politics and get them more involved in government.
Recently, the students were the teachers, educating the citizens on the town election. The majority of the Contemporary Issues class was present during the first selectman debate on Monday, Oct. 30.
The class consists of 13 students speaking in front of public audiences, debating different government roles and policies, and being educated on many opportunities that are available to take for a career in the future.
“You learn these things and then you are able to transfer them into other situations,” said Ms. Hardy.
One of these situations included the debate between Republican Mark Nickerson and Wes Firmin, who ran as an Independant.
Leading into the debate, Mr. Nickerson and Mr. Firmin answered some questions about the community. “Our school system is one of the best around,” said Firmin, who would like to keep it that way. His long term vision for East Lyme is to make it affordable to live in-especially for his daughter to learn and grow here as he did. Firmin emphasized keeping taxes as low as possible and keeping the school system top notch. He also was in favor of an open door policy – to let townspeople be aware of what decisions are being made.
Nickerson, who has been re-elected to serve as First Selectman once again, stated that his long term vision is to keep the town charming and affordable to live in. He does not want to lose the quality of the schools, reinforcing that “educational process starts with bringing in great speakers to our youth.”
With this, students can become more educated about topics the speakers say. East Lyme schools can grow and develop as well as the town.
“The intensity of the debate was not what I expected,” said senior Joyce Lin. This live debate related to class discussions and debate practice in class. With this practice, the class will be going to Washington D.C. on Nov. 14 to attend Princeton Model Congress where they will debate their own bills in mock-committees.
After listening to the debates, the students’ role consisted of introducing the other candidates who were running for positions on the Board of Selectmen, the Planning and Zoning Commission, among others .
In preparation for welcoming the candidates, Ms. Hardy paired up students. The pair consisted of an experienced classmate and a newcomer. A copy of the ballot was distributed to the class prior to the debate so they could use it as a reference to announce candidates before their one-minute speeches.

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