WAUSAU — Dozens of students participated Tuesday in a mock political convention at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County.

The day-long convention, sponsored by Kids Voting USA, is part of a national effort to promote civic education and citizenship among K-12 students. The first Kids Voting USA – Wisconsin/Marathon County mock political convention for high school students was held in 2012 and focused on the national presidential nomination process.

This event focused on statewide politics and included a gubernatorial candidate debate for both Republican and Democratic nominees.

The Republican debate was moderated by Mike Beck, with Melissa Langbehn from WAOW-Newsline 9 and Wausau Pilot and Review Editor Shereen Siewert acting as panelists.

On the Democratic side, author and certified speaking professional Chris Clarke-Epstein moderated, while Rob Mentzer from USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin and Sarah Gray from WSAW-TV acted as panelists.

Candidates were asked to explain their qualifications, ideals, and philosophies of government on a variety of topics. In addition to learning about the political process, the event aims to help students develop skills in decision-making, listening, compromising, and personal leadership.

The students taking part in Tuesday event came from D.C. Everest Junior High, IDEA Charter School, Wausau West and Colby High School.