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Junior Fellows 'Poll' Eighth Graders During Presidential Presentation

April 18, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Mike Yawn, Jennifer Gauntt

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Junior Fellows
Santiago Casas, Hellieth Pedroza and Taylor Parker recently worked to put Mance Park eighth graders in the election spirit by quizzing them on the topic. They also presented on the Electoral College, to educate them on what could be a deciding factor in this year's election. —Submitted photos
Presidential quiz

Eighth graders may not be eligible to vote, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be engaged in the upcoming presidential election. In that spirit, teachers from Mance Park Middle School and the Political Science Junior Fellows formed a unique partnership last week: teaching “The Basics of Presidential Elections” to more than 400 Mance Park eighth graders.

The “basics” involved topics such as “The History of the Parties,” “Famous Presidents,” “Party Differences,” “The Electoral College,” “Presidential Trivia,” and, of course, “The Upcoming Election.”

“We thought it was important to incorporate current events into our curriculum, and few events are bigger than a presidential election,” said Jamie Lorenz, a history teacher at Mance Park. “It was a great opportunity for our students to learn.”

The students proved an impressive lot, according to junior fellows adviser Mike Yawn, adding that they aced an introductory quiz, with quick answers to questions about presidential trivia, such as “Who was the tallest president?” (Abe Lincoln); “Who was youngest president?” (Teddy Roosevelt); and “Who was the heaviest president?” (William Howard Taft).

Students who correctly answered questions were given presidential dollar coins courtesy of the junior fellows.

“We wanted to reward students who have been studying,” said junior fellows’ secretary Hellieth Pedroza. “They knew a lot of the answers. Their teachers have done a great job.”

Things got tougher, however, when topics such as the Electoral College were addressed.

“Even many adults aren’t aware that candidates must receive 270 electoral votes to win the presidency,” Yawn said, adding that with the outcome in many states all but certain, the 2012 election will largely be determined by the outcome in approximately 10 key states.

“That was news to me,” said Ryan Brim, an eighth grader who attended the event. “I knew a lot about the history of the parties, but I didn’t know the details of the Electoral College. The Junior Fellows said that it could be an important factor this year.”

This year’s election was the hot topic of the presentation, and the students appeared well versed on the candidates. If a show of hands was an accurate indication, a solid majority appeared to support President Barack Obama, according to Yawn.

On the Junior Fellows side, members of both parties presented.

“We’re not a partisan organization,” said junior fellow Santiago Casas. “We have our own personal affiliations, but our objective is education and public service. We tried to present a balanced perspective, and we had members of both parties on hand to keep each other honest.”

The eighth graders also kept the junior fellows honest, asking questions that extended well beyond “the basics.”

“They asked tough questions for 13 year olds,” Pedroza said, “and that suggests that when they turn 18 they’ll be ready—for voting and for college.”



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