Da Vinci High School students Johann Baptista, center left, and Alexander Lascher-Posner, center right, make their cases for votes as the school's mock presidential campaign continues. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

Da Vinci High School students Johann Baptista, center left, and Alexander Lascher-Posner, center right, make their cases for votes as the school's mock presidential campaign continues. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

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Presidential fever escalates at Da Vinci High

By From page A1 | January 20, 2012

A heated presidential campaign is under way at Da Vinci High School, replete with campaign platforms and campaign promises.

It’s known as the “Hail to the Chief” project, in which members of Da Vinci’s senior class form parties, nominate candidates, make speeches and press the flesh through handshakes with potential voters.

Harrison “Polo” Hedriana is the vice presidential candidate of the Dinner Party — which operates under the slogans “Sitting Down With America” and “The Dinner Party — You’re Invited!”

In the past, Hedriana admitted, “I’ve never been much of a political guy.” But now that he’s gotten his feet wet in the realm of electoral politics, “I am learning that there is a lot of work involved with running a campaign — and a lot of people, and a lot of paperwork.”

Henry Spivey is the Dinner Party’s presidential candidate — which means he’s preparing for debates, and strategizing with his fellow party members on “how to get the most votes.”

“Everything you say in class is on the record,” Spivey added. “They can use what you say against you.” Just like the Republican presidential contenders do in those debates that have been held in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Spivey is already somewhat accustomed to a role in government — he’s the student representative on the Davis Board of Education, and casts a vote on occasion as a member of that body.

Running for president at Da Vinci involves “learning what America looks like in action,” Spivey said.

Madelyn Robley is the economic adviser to the Greek Party, whose members come to school daily in togas to draw attention to their cause.

“Wearing a toga every day is actually a little cold,” she confided, “but it’s fun.”

Sam Simes is the press secretary of the Rainbow Party, which he said is considering a slogan along the lines of “The Power of Love.” The Rainbow Party is still working on its campaign platform, but likely will favor gay marriage.

As press secretary, Simes is responsible for “talking to the press” — that would include The Enterprise — “and letting people know who we are, and why we are the best party to vote for,” he said.

“We are working on ballot propositions also,” Simes added. Students will be voting on several measures as part of the “Hail to the Chief” project.

Robley said the Greek Party is advancing some “more radical views” than several of the other student groups. Where some groups are supporting gay marriage, the Greek Party is thinking about a platform that might “get rid of the idea of marriage” altogether.

“We are learning a ton” through organizing the campaign effort, she added. “It’s a whole new insight into the election process.”

Other student groups include the Search Party, the Outback Party, the Handyman Party and the Winnie the Pooh Party (“Sniffing Out Honey!”).

Hedriana, Spivey, Simes and Robley also added that they will turn 18 before the Nov. 6 presidential election, and they all plan to vote in that contest as well.

Da Vinci Principal Rody Boonchouy said “Hail to the Chief” has become “one of our signature senior projects” over the past few years. “And this is the perfect year to be running the project — election years are always good” in terms of generating lots of student participation.

To make Da Vinci’s election even more like the real thing, students are encouraged to form political action committees, and put together negative ads about their opponents, within certain defined limits of fairness and good taste.

“It’s kind of over the top, but the kids really anticipate this project,” Boonchouy said. “Some of the sophomores start planning for ‘Hail to the Chief’ two years before they become seniors.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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