Hands on political learning for AP Gov students


When the 2020 presidential election pressed on, AP Government students were more politically active than ever. After Tuesday, November 3, 2020, Elizabeth Tompkins’ AP Government class had been going over the recent election and the candidates’ beliefs. 

Senior Hayley Kowalchuk stated, “We talk about the election process and everything, it’s not really about who we think should win. It’s basically the science behind the whole thing.”

Kowalchuk and senior Cadence Campbell both stressed the point that the class tries to stay as formal as possible and attempt to stray away from personal political beliefs. 

“It’s more formal because of the teacher [Tompkins], basically we learn about how [the] government works and what the president really does in office… and what they can and cannot do,” Campbell explained.

Senior Allison Tripp later explained that the class also talks about the parties and what they believe in politically. She also explained that Tompkins does a good job at staying unbiased and teaching with a neutral mindset.

“She [Tompkins] kind of just presents the facts about each party and explains what party does what,” senior Alicia Mendoza stated.

Even though the AP Government class talks about the election itself, personal politics still makes it into some small class groups. The 2020 election has had the best voter turnout in years prior according to USA Today, so many seniors who are voting this year have some passion for their preferred candidate.

Kowalchuk and Campbell had both stated that they talk about politics in their group and constantly keep up with the election results. They asked me to leave out exactly what they talk about.

Kowalchuk explained that Campbell and herself both are hesitant when bringing up politics because they do not know if the people around will get offended or start a fight. 

“Everything that’s happened in the past and even now there’s posts going around with people wearing [political] hats then getting a bad wrap for it,” Kowalchuk explained.

Although Kowalchuk has concerns about talking about personal politics, Mendoza explained that the class is respectful to everyone’s opinions.

“We’re all friends in there and we never attack each other for our opinions. We mostly… stay out of each other’s faces,” Mendoza stated.

Campbell added that there are some students that get “excited” when talking about their favored candidate, but it never evolves into a fight. For the most part, the class stays respectful toward one another and accepts that not everyone has the same opinions.

Tompkins sometimes puts the electoral college map on the projector to keep the students up to date with the election results.

Although the AP Government classes talk about the election and how it’s done, politics are kept to a minimum. Even when students talk about personal politics, everyone is respectful to their opinions.