Wall of Decision

When looking at politics, Christians may wonder what they are to do as they see the bitterness and divisiveness on both sides of the political spectrum. It can be hard to remember that God has called us "...to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to do whatever is good." (Titus 3:1) How do we do that?

For the past few weeks, OCCS students could be found checking out the Wall of Decision in our middle school hallway.  The wall is a multi-colored, floor-to-ceiling representation of presidential candidates' views on everything from health care to the death penalty to immigration.  Our 8th graders were the construction workers in choosing candidates and researching their views on 12 different issues.

The first step in the building process was taking a quiz that helped identify some of the important issues in this year’s election and how the students' views compared to the views of current candidates like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, President Trump and many  others. The quiz (https://www. isidewith.com) identified which candidates they most agreed with on important issues.  It also let them select what they thought was most important in a candidate: character, leadership, integrity, honesty, sense of humor, and more.

The next step involved our 8th graders researching and summarizing candidates' views on the issues and aligning them using a color-coded scheme to make it easier to view. Students were also able to view videos specifically targeted towards Iowa youth, challenging them to be involved in the election process (https://www.elections101.org/resource /videos/).  Other classes have been invited to use these resources  and view the wall in preparation for a mock election held in our school on Tuesday, January 28. 

8th graders were also given opportunity to comment on the ideas presented by each candidate, identifying areas in which they agreed and disagreed.

For better or worse, Iowa has been first on the list of presidential hopefuls' test of candidacy since 1972.  The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has sought to engage youth in that process by offering a straw poll for Iowa students to participate in the week prior to elections and caucuses. Iowa’s Secretary of State, Paul Pate, and his office provide curriculum and resources focused on explaining to high school and middle school students the process and information needed to engage in the mock election (https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=IDA9k_hJSUg&feature=emb_logo). Hundreds of schools and hundreds of thousands of Iowa students have been involved in this activity through the years. 

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Why is knowing the election process so important for young people?

"Because in the next election we will be able to vote, and we need to know what we are doing and need to look at all sides and opinions." Maddie, 8th grade

"We are our country's future." Landon, 8th grade

"Young people's opinions matter too!" Joe, 8th grade

"I like being able to speak my own mind. Also, we are the ones that will be leading our future!" Emilee, 8th grade
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Orange City Christian School will again be part of the mock election process this year. The 150 students in grades 4-8 will be voting for the President, senator, and District 4 representative. Votes from our school will be sent in and tabulated along with over 400 other schools across Iowa  to give candidates their first look at how youth in Iowa measure their candidacy. Of course this is all in preparation for the Iowa caucuses coming on Monday, February 3, when all eyes will be turned to the head and the heart of this state.  

5th graders study the wall to prepare for the straw poll.

Answering the question of how Christians should be involved in politics begins with God’s Word and trying to discern where the heart of God leads us.  Perhaps one day one of our students will be called to make a difference politically.  Learning more about candidates and their plans for the future can better prepare students and adults for the plan God has for our country.

Randy Hilbelink
6th-8th Social Studies


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