Class offered only during election year returns to BV, students analyze campaigns

Kelly Cordingley, Editor in Chief

The battle for the White House has already begun, and will only escalate as election day, Nov. 12, approaches. Each candidate is under constant scrutiny, and every speech is picked apart and analyzed. This year, to help students understand the finer details of our election system and of each campaign, Blue Valley offers the America Decides class to all students.
“What’s nice about this course is that there is no book, no set curriculum,” America Decides teacher Kristoffer Barikmo said. “We get to teach about what is happening.”
Barikmo is new to BV this year, but is familiar with the area. He attended Rockhurst High School and taught at Notre Dame de Sion High School before teaching for a few years in Colorado.
Barikmo said it is essential for citizens to be active in government and informed.
“You have to understand what’s going on to know what happens next,” he said. “I firmly believe in 20 years, you’ll use more economics and American government information.”
In the age of technology, more information is published through social media sites, and election information and propaganda are no exception. Through the use of technology, Barikmo said he is even more excited to help students understand the logistics of the election
“I think, ‘How can I help students understand what’s going on?’” he said. “‘Why did [Mitt] Romney pick that running mate? Why does the election only really rely on nine states when there are 50?’ Those questions are really important for Americans to look at.”
Senior Bri Woods said she took the class to become more informed, even though she won’t be able to vote this year.
“I used to feel dumb about politics,” she said. “I wanted to be more educated, and I wanted to sound smarter.”
Woods said the first thing the class learned was the election process, then they started talking about the candidates.
“We will go over what each candidate stands for,” she said. “Next time, because I can’t vote this time, I’ll be able to figure this stuff out for myself and not just listen to the media.”
Woods said she would be even more interested in the class if she was eligible to vote this year.
“If I could vote, I might care more,” Woods said. “I only missed being able to vote by a few days, which really angers me.”