While the eyes of the country, and possibly the world, are focused on the U.S. primaries in Texas and Ohio on Tuesday, it’s old news for students and faculty at Sigonella Middle and High School in Sicily. They’ve already chosen a president.

In a mock election landslide, Barack Obama secured 56 percent of the total vote among the six candidates still in the race for their party’s nomination. All students and faculty in grades 6 through 12 were eligible to vote in Thursday’s election. A total of 260 voters cast their ballots.

The event was coordinated by the school’s U.S. Government class, which is taught by Shawn McCarthy. He said his students, and the entire school, were extremely motivated to participate in the political process.

“There is more interest in this election than in 2000 or 2004. I think a lot of that is generated by the youth being energized by one of the candidates,” McCarthy said.

Individual students from McCarthy’s class researched information on the candidates, which they presented to students and faculty in an assembly before any ballots were cast. Students used a variety of sources for the presentation, including newspapers and candidate’s Web sites.

“They used identical PowerPoint templates for each candidate,” McCarthy said. “We tried to keep the information as objective as possible.”

Six students presented information on those still in the race. Joey Pearlman, who represented Republican candidate Ron Paul, said there are several issues that are important to him.

“We have the war in Iraq, and it’s been going on for a long time now. A lot of people feel passionately about that,” Joey, a 17-year-old senior said. “Also, the value of the U.S. currency is going down, and gas prices keep on going up, so people are looking for a candidate that can fix those problems.”

Looking at the overwhelming majority vote in this election, Obama is that candidate. According to Tara Dunaway, a 17-year-old senior who represented Obama, he is the candidate foremost on everyone’s mind — particularly among young people.

“Most students are looking for different changes than their parents. I do think there’s a generation gap,” Tara said.

In the mock election, the biggest gap was between Obama and everyone else. His closest competitor was Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, who pulled 12 percent of the total school vote. Across party lines, the Democrats took the election with an overwhelming 75 percent of the popular vote.

Although those results won’t count in November, it could give insight for future elections, when all of these students are eligible to vote.

“I voted for Obama because I agreed with what he was saying,” said Robyn Brandt, an eighth-grader. “I thought it was pretty interesting to experience what a campaign was like and to be treated like an adult and have our opinions heard.”

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