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Four Franklin Academy High School students posed as the candidates running for president and vice president during an appearance Thursday at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Malone. From left, Joe Suarez portrayed Sen. Barack Obama, Myles Schank was Sen. Joseph Biden, Anthony Lamb was Sen. John McCain, and Kayleigh Thomas was Gov. Sarah Palin.



MALONE -- St. Joseph's Elementary School was abuzz with excitement as third-, fourth- and fifth-graders got to ask questions of the candidates for president and vice president.

The children filed into the gymnasium with their classroom teachers and sat on the floor in front of two podiums set up on each side of a moderator's table decorated with clumps of red, white and blue balloons.

Each podium held the campaign signs of the candidates: on the right, Republicans Sen. John McCain (Anthony Lamb) and Gov. Sarah Palin (Kayleigh Thomas) and on the left, Democrats Sen. Barack Obama (Joe Suarez) and Sen. Joseph Biden (Myles Schank).

Franklin County Manager James Feeley was moderator.

The debate was the third in a four-part series being held around the community, where students from William LaDuke's history class at Franklin Academy High School portray the candidates and answer the questions just as the real people would.

The children were later handed paper ballots to vote for who they want to be president and vice president.

FIELDING QUESTIONS

Lamb, Thomas, Suarez and Schank took on the traits of the candidates, emphasizing their positions with well-researched answers, McCain' with a feistiness and fire and Obama' with quieter, more measured responses.

If winners were decided by crowd reaction, the day would have to go to Obama and Biden, who received enthusiastic cheers and clapping after each answer, compared to polite applause for McCain and Palin.

Twelve children from different grade levels read questions given to them about topics of interest to young people.

Fifth-grader Brooke Monette asked the candidates how they would get everyone to recycle. After the debate, she said St. Joe's has a good recycling program and that recycling is important to everyone.

"I would vote for Obama because he wants to change things and help the environment," she said.

Sierra Willett, a fourth-grader, asked candidates what their favorite book is and said she would also go with Obama for president because "he's going to change things and help with taxes."

Alexandra McKeller-Jones wanted to know if Obama and McCain were in favor of a 12-month school year and what they would do to improve education.

After hearing their answers, the fourth-grader said she doesn't want to go to school all year and that she would vote for Obama because "he's going to bring tax cuts and help with the gas crisis."

Adam Gero wanted to know which president the candidates considered their role model.

He agreed that both McCain and Obama made a good choice in naming Abraham Lincoln as the president they try to be the most like. The fourth-grader said he'd likely vote for McCain.

"He's going to change the world and make a difference," Gero said. "He will help people in need."

VOTE RESULTS

The student ballots were collected and counted late Thursday, and the Obama/Biden ticket defeated McCain/Palin by more than a two-to-one vote, 156 to 60.

draymo@pressrepublican.com

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