Grade-schoolers cast their own vote
The voters shifted anxiously as they waited in line, working to maintain patience for their turn in the voting booth.
A girl who handed out the ballots did more than an adequate job of handling the crowd, barking out orders and giving spirited direction. Never mind that the voters are grade-school students who participated in St. Theresa’s presidential mock election. They were enthusiastic about the vote and had confidence that their experiment would predict the result of the presidential election.
“It is cool because the kids under 18 don’t get to vote so we are probably going to predict who wins,” said fifth-grader Jason Winslow.
The election was the idea of teacher Amy Arrington’s fifth-grade class. The class was in charge of organizing the election for the rest of the school. Arrington said she feels that holding such an event allows kids to get a first-hand feel for what an election is really like.
“The kids hear about it on the news and they never have anything to do with it,” Arrington said. “We will announce the results here and then (the students) get to go home and see how it really turns out.”
Arrington designed the mock election to mimic the real process.
“We will have the teachers vote and have them be the Electoral College and then show them how that works,” Arrington said.
The mock election brought great enthusiasm and spread interest in the presidential election that would not have otherwise been present among youngsters.
“It is pretty fun and it explains what our parents are going to do and the American public,” said fifth-grader Katherine Garrett. “I got a lot more involved (with the election) when we started talking about doing this.”
Sixth-grader Zach Kropf agreed, noting the serious attitude many of his classmates are taking.
“Actually it has taught us a lot, it is a good learning thing,” Kropf said. “People have really been following it and they know who is who and they have their opinions.”
When all votes were cast and counted it was Republican candidate George W. Bush came out the victor among students grades three to eight by a narrow margin over Democrat Al Gore.
While all students participated, second-grade students and younger cast their votes according to the candidate with the more appealing appearance. There was no contest as Bush took nearly 80 percent of the vote.
Though the students are excited about the knowledge of the voting process they lament the confusion which accompanies it.
“A lot of them (the students) are kind of hung up in the politics of it all this year,” Kropf noted.
The political landscape of St. Theresa’s fifth-grade will never be the same.
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After a period of dry, warm weather, winter returns this week to Lake Tahoe.