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Elementary Students Get Election Lesson From Junior Fellows

Nov. 6, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Mike Yawn, Jennifer Gauntt

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Samuel Walker Houston Elementary students got a lesson in civic engagement yesterday, participating in the Junior Fellows-sponsored mock election. —Submitted photo

As Democrats and Republicans prepare for Election Day, the Junior Fellows and Samuel Walker Houston Elementary are preparing for the future—by teaching kids the importance of voting.

The Junior Fellows arrived at Samuel Walker Houston Elementary on Monday to host a mock election for students, who learned by actually casting ballots.

“We think it was a formative experience for the students,” said Junior Fellow Melva Gomez. “They seemed to enjoy it.”

Stacy Bennett, principal at Samuel Walker Houston Elementary, agreed.

“We want young people to be good students and good citizens, and our objective is to give them a head start in both areas,” she said. “That’s a lot easier if they have fun while they learn.”

The exercise involved students in kindergarten through fourth grade and was customized to the age group.

“The youngest students received picture ballots. The older students were given text ballots,” said Junior Fellow Jessica Rodriguez. “Otherwise, it proceeded like any other election.”

Students waited in line to vote and were given ballots when they reached the “election clerks.” After receiving their ballots, they moved to one of several tables set up to preserve their privacy.

“We had tri-folds set up,” Bennett said. “We wanted to make this as realistic as possible.”

Bennett also wanted the students to learn as much as possible from the act of voting. Accordingly, she has encouraged her faculty to address civic education during the election season.

“They’ve worked hard to prepare our students for the upcoming election by learning about America, our political system, and what it means to be a good citizen,” Bennett said. “We have been fortunate to be able to utilize videos produced by Huntsville High School students that introduce and explain the election cycle as part of our preparation for the election.”

“We were excited when Mrs. Bennett called us,” Junior Fellow Brian King said. “What she is doing at Samuel Walker Houston is similar to what we do as Junior Fellows. We take what the teachers lecture on, then we do it, and then we keep doing it until we know how to do it well. That’s how civic education should be taught.”

The students seemed to enjoy the experience, with many proudly announcing they had cast their “first vote,” and others wondering when they could cast their first “real vote.” When told the minimum age was 18 in the United States, one student responded, “but I get a phone when I am 10!”

“The students were great,” said Junior Fellow Jessica Rodriguez. “They were efficient and they followed the rules. They lined up correctly and refrained from electioneering—and still had fun.”

Also fun was tallying the final results. Irrespective of what the nation’s voters decide today in the presidential election, President Barack Obama can sleep well tonight knowing he has the students at Samuel Walker Houston Elementary in Huntsville firmly in his corner. The final results showed that he received 66.7 percent of the 564 votes cast, with Romney receiving 33.3 percent.

“But that’s just a side note,” King said. “The important thing is that these kids learn the importance of voting in future elections because they are the future.”



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