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Debate watchers: St. Joe’s students prepare to watch presidential debate

"The candidates have to answer the question"
Posted at 6:59 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 19:09:07-04

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) — “If one candidate says something I don't like maybe I will lean to the other or maybe I’ll lean to the other even more,” remarked Aidan Wright, senior, St. Joseph’s Collegiate institute.

Seniors at St. Joe’s High School in the Town of Tonawanda are a mix of 17 and 18-year-olds.

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Aidan Wright, St. Joe's senior.

Wright is still 17, not old enough to vote, but he is already interested to hear the candidates views in this first presidential debate.

“I’m really strong on constitution. I really want to know what the candidates opinions are on it,” Wright explained.

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Inside at St. Joe’s classroom, long-time history teacher Ted Lina is providing a political lesson.

Inside at St. Joe’s classroom, long-time history teacher Ted Lina is providing a political lesson.

“Are Trump and Biden of the highest quality and character politically? How many of you say no?" Lina asks students.

Nearly the entire classroom raises their hand.

Then Lina asks if any student believe the candidates are of high quality, but no one raises their hand.

“Isn’t that unbelievable? They’re running for the highest office in the land and not one student in here thinks they’re of the highest caliber,” Lina remarks.

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History teacher Ted Lina in classroom.

Lina said he recently asked the seniors if they will be watching the debate.

“I believe every hand went up and they're extremely excited about it,” recalled Lina.

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St. Joe's High School students.

Lina said this debate is very important to “undecided voters.”

“I do believe it's going to be decided the day of the election by the undecided — whether they be independence — democrats or republicans — walking into a polling place,” Lina predicting.

18-year-old Matthew Schneggenburger has registered to vote in his first presidential election.

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Matthew Schneggenburger has registered to vote in his first presidential election.

“What is important to you as a young voter and new voter?" Buckley asked. "I think for me — personally — one of the biggest things that I value in a leader is honesty and integrity,” Schneggenburger replied.

17-year-old senior Andrew Watz says he wants the candidates to answer questions and not deflect.

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Andrew Watz, St. Joe's senior.

“I want to see them answer the questions and I want to see them being kind to each other and not taking jabs at each other,” Watz stated.

“But I think the first debate is extremely significant because there are people that may only watch this evening and once they've decided — they're not going to probably watch debate two or three,” Lina said.

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St. Joe's High School students.

Lina will be leading his students as they host a debate October 21st for the NY-27 Congressional race featuring Congressman Chris Jacobs and his democratic challenger Nate McMurray.

St. Joe’s debates have become a tradition — something Lina started in 1984. He moderates and his students ask the questions.