Presidential candidates Michael Dukakis, George Bush and Jesse Jackson might have picked up a few pointers at Viewmont High School Friday morning.
Getting elected to a student body office at Viewmont High School takes more than just a snazzy slogan and wall-to-wall campaign signs. It takes a knowledge of the traditional political process used in electing state, local and national officials.About 60 student delegates attended a convention Friday morning to pare those vying in the school student body elections down to two candidates for each of the three offices president, vice president and secretary.
Delegates were seated in the center of the gymnasium amid red, white and blue bunting. A huge American flag was draped behind the podium, and delegates wore straw hats with red, white and blue hatbands. Delegations were seated around a sign indicating the class they represented, much the way state signs are posted at national political conventions.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, in a keynote political address, explained the political process and the inner workings of the party system. Involvement is the key to making the United States work and to protecting America's freedoms, he said.
Hansen told the delegates and about 400 students observing from the bleachers to take the convention experience seriously and to make it a part of their lives.
Following Hansen's remarks, students got down to business and selected candidates for the final balloting, which will occur next week.
The election process at Viewmont High School has been under way for the past two weeks. Office seekers had to file a petition signed by 20 students and pass a review of their qualifications. A grade-point average of at least 3.0 is among the qualifications.
Earlier this week, the candidates received an opportunity to campaign by speaking to the 10th- and 11th-grade English classes. The candidates used the time to try to influence students who would later be chosen as delegates to Friday's convention.
But there is an added complication in the process.
Classes were allowed to bind the delegates to a favorite son or daughter candidate. Under convention rules, delegates are bound to the candidate endorsed by the class for the first-round voting in the convention. After the first round, however, delegates can vote for any candidate. In past years, it has taken as many as three rounds to select the final slate of candidates.
While formally announced candidates have the advantage going into convention, it is not uncommon for a favorite son to reach the final ballot. Two of the six candidates on last year's final ballot were favorite son selections.
Similarities to the state political process do not end with next week's elections. The winners will then meet to select other student body officers in a manner similar to that used by governors and the president of the United States to select a cabinet.
School officials said exposure to the political process in their own school elections should encourage those 18 and older to vote in federal, state and local elections.