AP Government and Politics students attend 8th Congressional District debate
Posted 10/13/2016 04:36PM

AP Government and Politics students attend 8th Congressional District debate

Holy Ghost Prep’s AP Government and Politics students got a first-hand look at the political process, as they attended the 8th Congressional district debate on October 13 between Republican Brian Fitzpatrick and Democrat Steve Santarsiero at Bucks County Community College’s Lower Bucks Campus in Bristol.

Two Holy Ghost Prep teachers, Dr. Thomas Saxton and Tom Murtaugh, accompanied the 22 students to the debate, an experience that gave the students a whole different level of insight into next month’s election.

“As a battleground state and region, Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley have received extensive national attention this election cycle,” Dr. Saxton says. “Students have been considering the key role Philadelphia suburbs might play determining which presidential candidate wins Pennsylvania’s electoral votes.  Also, they have been looking at our competitive 8th District congressional race and its national implications, potentially giving one party control over the House of Representatives. 

“Watching Steve Santarsiero and Brian Fitzpatrick debate, then, certainly enlivens big picture topics, such as campaigns, voting behavior, and the role of the media.  In addition, this is a first-time experience for many of these students to be voters. Having them see a live debate gives them a better understanding of our political system and how candidates engage various issues.  Beyond watching a televised account, attending the debate provides students an opportunity to directly participate in our American political culture.”

The 22 Holy Ghost students in Dr. Saxton’s AP Government and Politics class who attended the 8th Congressional district debate were William Abbamont, Aidan Bauer, Joseph Calvin, Dylan Carey, Nicholas Chimbos, Alexander Dale, Dante DeSanctis, Mark Featherstone, Nicholas Flacco, Joseph Giannos, Paul Horgan, Matthew Marchand, John McCrane, Michael McFadden, Nicholas Posivak, James Nycz, Timothy Price, Domenic Principato, Patrick Taylor, Albert Wilson, Jake Zelinsky and Xincheng Zhou.

The debate was televised live on C-SPAN, so the students could have watched it on television. But the unique, hands-on learning opportunity of attending the debate in person was too important to pass up, according to Murtaugh.  

“The two candidates put into context some of the most important issues facing our nation and both spoke to the importance of young people taking part in the process,” Murtaugh says. “Several of the students at today’s debate have been volunteering this election season for both candidates. The 8th Congressional district is one of the few contentious House races this year, and many are looking to the district as a bellwether for which party is likely to take control of Congress.”