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Checking the Campaigns: AP Gov Presidential Debates

By Sania Daniyal

New Hyde Park’s AP US Government and Politics classes have begun one of their main projects for the year: the 2024 Presidential Election. As a team, each class is divided into groups that will be instrumental in helping their fellow “Americans,” or in this case, classmates, choose who to elect as the next president.

Approximately four candidates are in the running per class: two Democrats and two Republicans. Their ultimate goal is to win, but to get there they must experience the election process. Candidates and their teams will first collaborate to create their personas and a stump speech, an integral part of campaigning that distinguishes themselves from the other candidates. 

Source by Linda Cheung

Students in Mr. Galvin's period 4 AP Government class discusses political strategy in anticipation of the presidential debate toward the end of the project.

“I am excited to be working on this project as a campaign manager,” senior Robert Goldhirsch said. “Creating policies catering to the political party you represent, special interest groups, and the media is very interesting.”

At the same time, the media works to cover the election from their respective parties' perspectives as an intermediary between the public and the government. By highlighting specific stories, they help shape what political issues are considered the most important. 

“I am excited to experience the AP Gov presidential debates as part of the media, and I look forward to reporting on the upcoming presidential debates and learning more about the impact of media on elections,” senior Helen Liu said.

Lastly, the Special Interest Groups aim to advance the political agenda of their party. There are four interest groups per class: two liberal and two conservative. They will use money, publicity, access and influence to shape the race, ultimately backing a candidate and assisting their campaign.  

Source by Linda Cheung

As Republican party leaders, seniors Olivia Tomalska and Erik Gliszczynski aim to help the Republican candidate through a variety of tools such as advertisements and publicity.

As the students work through this project, they are encouraged to be creative and have fun. Many candidates have chosen to create their own characters for their candidacy, creating clever names based on prominent figures in the political world such as “Boe Jiden,” “Karla Marxy,” “Johnny Liberty” and “Harrack Bobama.”

Despite the creativity behind the project, there are many real-world implications behind the project. 

“As we’ve seen in past years, our country has become increasingly divisive,” AP Government teacher and social studies chairperson Mr. Galvin said. “We hope that the project will help us become better citizens and understand where differences occur on various issues and how we can do better in listening to one another. Model citizens are the best outcomes a social studies teacher can hope to witness.”

Source by Linda Cheung

Social studies chairperson Mr. Galvin discusses advertisements with the Democratic presidential candidate.

Furthermore, the project provides a different approach to learning; AP Government teachers utilize this method to allow students to not only learn about the election process but appreciate the thoughts behind it.

“The purpose of the AP Gov project is to learn more about how we elect the President of the United States,” AP Government teacher Dr. D’Orsogna said. “I’ve found that by making the switch to project-based learning for this unit, students retain more information about the election process and have way more fun than if we did smaller activities.”

Through fostering debates over issues plaguing society, the project aims to guide students in leading a country to success. It teaches diplomacy between students and also exposes students to how it feels to be a part of the democratic process.


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