EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 14, 2012

An up-close civics lesson

14th Essex House candidates to debate at Methuen High field house on Wednesday

By Douglas Moser dmoser@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — METHUEN — The high school will host a debate between the two candidates for the 14th Essex House seat Wednesday that school officials intend to be a live-and-up-close civics lesson.

Methuen Democrat Diana DiZoglio and North Andover Republican Karin Rhoton will talk about the issues at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday in the high school field house in a forum that is open to students and the public. The newly redrawn 14th Essex House district now includes several precincts in Methuen.

“I think it’s important to expose students to real life situations, whether it be in math, science, or social studies,” high school principal James Giuca said. “As our social studies department head, Roger Lenfest, says, ‘Students need to know how our system works so they can develop the critical thinking skills to evaluate viewpoints.’ “

Last year, the high school held a debate at the field house between mayoral candidates Steve Zanni and Al DiNuccio, with the same eye toward giving students a live view of how the political process works locally. “The students see real life politics first hand,” Giuca said.

The high school also coordinated with City Hall to have a registrar at the field house to help 18-year-old students register to vote.

Along with hosting debates, Guica said the high school also invites elected officials speak to freshmen at the Ninth Grade Campus, while social studies teachers follow the campaigns through the election. “Understanding local government functions and how democracy works is a must for any student, and any adult,” Guica said.

The candidates said they were looking forward to discussing issues with the students.

“I’m looking forward to telling people the difference between Diana and I,” said Rhoton, a former member of the North Andover School Committee. “I think those will be highlighted in the debates in my proven track record and leadership.”

“I’m a huge proponent of civic education,” DiZoglio said. “I hope it will be informative for students and teachers, and I look forward to discussing the issues of the students of Methuen who are coming up on voting age.”

Both candidates also will debate on MCTV Tuesday at 7 p.m. The forum will be aired live.

DiZoglio, a Methuen High graduate, won a primary upset against incumbent state Rep. David Torrisi, D-North Andover last month. Rhoton did not have a primary opponent.

The general election in Nov. 6.

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