Election Simulation ends, Harrisites reflect

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As the month-long Election Simulation comes to a close, students and teachers alike reflect on the first ever all-remote Election Sim. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, seniors had to adapt to online circumstances in order to carry out the yearly event, with candidates and campaign teams finding new ways to get more supporters amongst the underclassmen in a virtual setting.

In character as their respective candidates, seniors were confident that they had students’ votes. Senior Amanda Grivej, who played the role of Joann Ariola, explained, “We unfortunately have less time to campaign and spread our hopes for the future of Queens, but I’m sure we will turn out alright. It’s a small setback, but we can overcome that.” 

Senior Brian Rettig, who played the role of Joe Biden, shared Amanda’s attitude towards the Sim’s election day. “We are in a battle for the soul of this nation—and it’s a battle we can and must win. I am not concerned about the setback due to the delayed start of the school year. My positions and those of my opponent have been clear from the start, and it is even clearer who should be winning this election,” Brian said.

Likewise, Dalin Martin, who played the role of Kamala Harris, stated, “Seeing that I have been working to benefit the people, I think that the voters will see the amount of effort that has been put into our campaign and then will make the wise choice when voting on election day.”

Students appeared to agree on the effort level that the senior class has shown despite the differences between this Election Simulation and those of past years. 

Junior Madeleine Deschamps said, “I feel like the [seniors], who I believe put in a lot of work, would have probably put in the same amount if we were in school.”

Despite the late start of the school year and the effect it may have had on the time it takes to prepare, seniors reflected on the experience that the Election Simulation provided for all Harrisites. “The past month and a half was great. There was definitely a competitive spirit that mirrored the craziness and hype between Biden and Trump, and because of that, it was a great educational experience for the Townsend community,” senior Abraham Higuita said.

However, others felt that some aspects of previous Election Simulations were irreplaceable. Senior Michelle Stern said, “It was still honestly a bit weird being online, and I missed that feeling of getting the chance to run around in the halls or go into classrooms or do live simbuck giveaways. Still, we made the best of it.”

Nevertheless, some adjustments initially confused some students. Sophomore Jeffrey Jun said, “The Election Sim felt pretty organized. I was honestly expecting something much more chaotic, but how it went it was well done. However, I felt like the simbucks website and the social media accounts should have been explained before week one.”

With both the Election Sim and the current circumstances with the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that students have become more politically aware and involved. History teacher Charlene Levi noted, “What’s interesting is the fact that more and more students seem to be paying attention to what is happening in the news these days, which is great.”

Jeffrey, for example, said, “The Election Sim definitely makes me more educated about politics. I know some friends who don’t care about politics, but because of the Election Sim, we talk about the candidates through social media.”

Madeleine also touched on the educational benefits of the simulation: “The election simulation is cool because by watching the TV show and hearing the radio shows, I can find out which candidates are running for what and which issues are currently major all in one place instead of not knowing about any of it.”

These beliefs are not isolated among students; we can observe greater political awareness on the larger scope of the United States as well. History teacher and Election Simulation Coordinator Jaime Baranoff said, “This year, I think the American people as a whole are paying more attention to the upcoming election than in previous years for a number of reasons—it’s a presidential election, the American people are polarized in their opinions about the current president, we are in the middle of a global pandemic, the economy is in decline… and more.”

The Election Simulation has always been a memorable event for students of all grades, and this year was no different in this respect.

Abraham recalled, “I think there was something about how anyone could buy AirPods from the Conservative side by trading simbucks. It [was] cancelled either because it was a joke or the idea was scrapped for some other reason. If that was actually up and running, that would’ve blown my mind. This was either week one or week two… that was a funny thing for me.”

“I’m kind of sad it’s over, as following the election simulation was more of a fun assignment [rather] than something we would normally get on a Friday,” Madeleine remarked.

Michelle commented, “Seeing my friends be candidates or do the TV or radio show was really fun—I’ve been waiting for that since I was a freshman. Just watching the videos get posted and recognizing voices and participating in the behind the scenes. It was all really nice.”

Ms. Baranoff said, “The name of the game this year is flexibility, as we are being creative and doing our best in a difficult situation.”

Election Simulation polls officially close at 9 PM tonight. 

Photo the courtesy of the THHS Election Simulation Media

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