Since 1960, during every presidential race, Moorestown Friends Upper School students have campaigned earnestly on behalf of the Democratic and Republican candidates as a uniquely immersive American civics lesson. From 1960 to 1996, MFS held Mock Political Conventions, during which students acted as campaign managers and delivered impassioned speeches to rally support for their nominee. Developed and refined over the years by Social Studies teachers G. MacCulloch “Cully” Miller and others, including Sandy Heath, Ed Dreby, and Margaret Barnes Mansfield, the Mock Political Convention simulated national politics and typically featured the party that was out of power at the time. In 2000, the quadrennial tradition transitioned to what is today’s Mock Primary Election. To mirror the real election, if an incumbent president is running, the school only holds a primary for the other party.
Continuing the tradition in 2016, History Teacher Judy van Tijn and History Department Chair Clark Thomson led this year’s Democratic and Republican primaries. Upper School students portrayed the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail, participating in debates, town hall meetings, and the Primary Election. Students representing the candidates became well-versed on pressing issues in American politics, such as national security, gun control, immigration, LGBTQ rights, climate change, education, healthcare, and the federal budget. During the many MPE programs, the students had the opportunity to become informed voters and learn about candidates’ positions on these topics before they cast their vote for President of the United States. This 56-year quadrennial tradition provides students with experiential political, social, and historical lessons that extend far beyond any chapter in a textbook.
A History of “Getting It Wrong”
Since 1960, MFS has only twice correctly selected the candidates who would go on to win the party’s presidential nomination. In 1988, Michael Dukakis was selected as the MFS Mock Political Convention, but lost in the general election to Ronald Reagan. In 2008, the votes of the MFS constituency mirrored the actual primary election results as John McCain won the Republican primary and Barack Obama was chosen as the Democratic nominee.
George H. W. Bush
Bill Bradley/John McCain
John McCain/Barack Obama
Donald Trump/Bernie Sanders
John F. Kennedy
Al Gore/George W. Bush
John McCain/Barack Obama
To Be Determined