Twenty-seven Upper School students and four History Department faculty will travel to Iowa to observe the Iowa caucuses taking place on Monday, February 3, 2020. The majority of the students on the trip are juniors and seniors who took SPA’s “Government and Citizenship” elective in fall 2019, taught by Upper School History faculty member Aaron Shulow. Shulow will lead the trip along with History Department colleagues Dr. Jon Peterson, Dr. Andrea Sachs, and Academic Dean Tom Anderson.
The trip will begin on Sunday, February 2, when the group will travel by bus to Mason City, Iowa to observe one of the major Democratic candidates campaigning on the day before the caucuses. Afterwards, the group will arrive in Decorah, Iowa, where they will stay overnight for two nights. On Monday, the group will meet with former Iowa State House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp (R-Decorah) who served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1990 to 2009 and was the Republican majority leader from 2003–2007. Monday will also include observation of caucus day get-out-the-vote activities, and finally, attending actual caucuses in the Decorah area on Monday evening. The group will return to SPA on Tuesday.
Trip leader Jon Peterson, who is also the Chair of SPA’s History Department, is glad for the opportunity to give students a chance to apply the knowledge they’ve gained in class to a real-world political event. “Most of the students on the trip spent time in their first-semester Government and Citizenship course monitoring the state of the race for President among the challengers in the Democratic Party, along with the handful of Republicans seeking to unseat President Trump,” Peterson says, “and they have also studied the Executive Branch and its powers, as well as electoral processes--both primaries and caucuses--used to determine candidates for President. This trip will give them the chance to witness firsthand what they have learned about in class.”
Update! The group was featured in a WCCO piece about the caucuses on Monday morning. Watch the clip.