Immigration likely debate topic

Friday, October 8, 2010

Edgar Flores is one of the Marshall County High School students participating in the development of a political debate 10 days from tonight when candidates for the state House and Senate have agreed to appear in the school's lecture hall.

And while specific questions won't be finalized or revealed until Oct. 18, the 17-year-old senior has some personal insights on his question's subject -- immigration. He's studying to earn his citizenship as an American. He moved to the United States when he was five.

After living with his parents in Los Angeles, Calif., for a year, Flores moved to Marshall County and lives with his mother, Teresa, and stepfather David Granados in the vicinity of Cornersville Highway. They immigrated legally and have what's frequently called a green card.

Flores is vice president of the Leo Club at MCHS and he volunteered his time mixing pancake batter during the Lions Club Octoberfest last weekend.

He wants to be one of the students who will ask questions during the 5:30-7 p.m. debate on Oct. 18, and he wants a career as a corporate lawyer.

"I told them to have a question on education and the economy," American government teacher Daniel Batey said Wednesday morning. "I also asked them to have another question in case there's one that really knocks our socks off."

Batey is certified as an American government teacher, but he teaches world geography and contemporary issues. Students participating in the debate are being drawn from the issues class in conjunction with consultations with MCHS Principal Keith Stacey.

Kathryn "Kat" Villanueva, 16, a junior and the daughter of Sheila Riggs, is another student in Batey's class participating in the debate. Born and raised in Lewisburg, she and her mother live near Farmington.

"Picking community leaders is a big deal," Villanueva said, acknowledging the debate is a way to inform voters before an election.

Villanueva and other students volunteering to participate in the debate have been asked if they want to be on stage and ask the questions, or whether they'd want to serve as an usher at the lecture hall asking visitors if they'd like to submit a written question for selection.

"It really doesn't matter to me," Villanueva said. "I just want to be a part of it."

Taylor Clift was the third student available to talk about the debates before exams started on Wednesday morning. He lives with his parents, Linda and Keith Clift in Mooresville.

Taylor Clift volunteered to participate, explaining, "It would give me a broader view of people's views."

He's developed a specific subject for a question. It's about commerce and the economy, but he too won't publicly discuss the question subject or the specific wording until the debates.

Clift prefers to serve as an usher and deal with audience questions, he said.

"I'm not afraid of being in front of people," he said, "but in this situation, I'd just rather not.

"Something like this has never happened with students," he said. "I think it will be an experience for our lives."