Don Raphael Gorga may have had the look and sound of Don Corleone, but it actually may have been his pledge to reform the country’s criminal justice system and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure that carried the day in presidential elections at Da Vinci Charter Academy last month.
Then again, it may have been the “Godfather” motif, right down to Gorga’s political party, “The Family.”
In any case, Gorga won the election by a strong majority, said Da Vinci teacher Lynn Fowler, culminating a 10-week election season at the school.
The annual “Hail to the Chief” project this year involved Da Vinci seniors who created political parties, drew up platforms and selected a candidate to run in the schoolwide election. As they campaigned and glad-handed throughout the campaign, many of the candidates and party leaders even dressed the part — spending 10 weeks in suit and tie or, in the case of some parties, like the Medieval Party, in costume.
Those students who chose not to be politicos took on the role of the press instead.
This year, there were 13 presidential candidates in the mix, all of whom finished off their campaigns with speeches in the school’s multipurpose room in March, where they tried to attract voters — sophomores and juniors at the school — to their cause.
Up first that day was Superman, aka Maxx Stambusky, of the Justice League party.
Stambusky kicked off his last moment in the spotlight by ripping off his suit to reveal a Superman costume. He pledged, if elected, to increase the country’s education budget, make health care available to all, legalize gay marriage and more. The symbol on his chest, he said, “is not an S, it’s a symbol of hope.”
Next up was John Conant of The Party party.
“America,” Conant said, “isn’t having enough fun.
“The most important thing we can do with our autonomy is to enjoy life … (and) you want a government that knows where the party’s at.”
Sam McPherson of the Technocracy Party called for “a society governed by technical experts in various fields,” with only intelligent and educated people making the laws of America.
He, too, called for universal health care and the right to marry for everyone — clearly two of the most popular platform planks at the school.
Jeff Weing of the Party of Ghar talked of the importance of recognizing and controlling fear … as well as saving the environment and eliminating prison sentences for drug addiction; while David Kim of the Olympic Party 2014 espoused healthy eating and physical fitness.
Jamie Kingsley of the Coming Out Party pushed for marriage equality, while Miki Izu of the Komfort Kings party — slogan, “Let’s Get Komfy” — said “the keystone of every thing ever is, of course, comfort. We slave and toil … and for what? Comfort is the key.”
Aries (also known as student Harrison Bier) led the Zodiac Party, which promoted “zodiac therapy” to break down everything from gender to racial barriers as well as a way to turn criminals around.
“You have a bright future, America, and I’m the only one who can read it,” Aries said.
In a similar vein, Molly Aikawa of the “Summer of Love” party, called for a “loving and peaceful revolution” leading to women’s equality in pay, gay rights, sustainable energy practices and more.
Standing out in his own way was George Ingram (aka student Aaron Levin-Fay) of the Country Club party.
He thanked the many candidates and parties who preceded him on the stage for “the far-left views that sadly remain prevalent in our society.”
He then blamed the impoverished for the nation’s problems and paraphrased President John F. Kennedy by saying, “what you can do for your country is to make more money.”
Shawnie Giesler, meanwhile, led The Medieval Party while Nick Meddin, candidate of The Economists, said, “Money makes the world go round and I plan to keep the world spinning.”
All the participating students are in Fowler’s political studies government and economics class. In addition to creating parties and platforms and selecting candidates, they also created web pages and Facebook pages to promote their candidates and ideals.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy