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Lakeland Union High School hosts 7th Congressional District debate organized and run by students

Katie Thoresen

U.S. Representative Tom Tiffany and challenger Dick Ausman debated for nearly 90 minutes last night.

The debate was held at Lakeland Union High School where it was conducted by students in the junior class.

Infrastructure, fentanyl, abortion, same-sex marriage, wolf hunts were some of the many topics covered during the 7th Congressional District Debate last night.

And all of those questions were thought of by students. Olivia England is one of those juniors.

“That was me and Colton and then we worked with our team fully, with Lilah and Mr. Dan Hagen, who so graciously helped us refine all of our questions and really work on our process of moderating in between that. So yeah, we wrote our own questions,” said England.

It wasn’t just the questions the students had a role in.

They organized the debate, manned the cameras and ran the audio board.

Colton Teichmiller was cutting off both the candidates when their time ran out.

England and Lilah Kirkham asked the questions to each of the candidates.

It was an experience the students didn’t know was an option just a few weeks ago, but one they’re glad was made available to them.

“Wow. It was so cool. I never really thought I’d be doing anything like this. It’s such a cool opportunity I guess to be able to inform people but not us ourselves, but to be able to put on an event that informs people,” said Kirkham.

And while these juniors, who put in hours of work so that voters could make informed decisions at the polls, won’t be able to vote themselves in this election, they’re proud to be part of the process.

“It’s just a good opportunity to inform those who will be helping make the decisions for our country, said Kirkham.

“This was just an amazing process and opportunity. We saw it and we grabbed it. It doesn’t matter what our age is to us, we all have the capacity to do great things. We were just very excited about this debate,” said England.

You can watch the debate between Tiffany and Ausman here.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.