Lewisville Leader > News
Students take part in mock voting
From staff reports
On Election Day 2012, while citizens across the country head to the polls to a cast their votes, thousands of Lewisville ISD students headed to the polls too. District officials said a presidential election year is a good opportunity for elementary through high school students to learn about the election process and many campuses have capped off the learning opportunity with mock presidential elections.
At the elementary level, students learned the basics: what voting is, who the candidates are, the primary political parties and more. After learning the basics, students began to learn the voting process they will take part in as adults through participation in a mock election.
"This is a great opportunity to start not only telling, but also showing our students what it means to have the right to vote," Hedrick Elementary Principal Trish Cuckler said.
Lewisville High School (LHS) Main, Harmon and Killough campuses learned more about the details of the election. In preparation for the triad's (LHS Main, Harmon, Killough) mock presidential election, sponsored by the LHS Junior State of America and Student Council, students produced a mock presidential debate video to help inform their target voters, students.
"For our students, especially those at main campus who are 18 or close to 18, it's important to study the candidates and issues," LHS Main Principal Jeffrey Kajs said. "If they aren't already eligible to vote, they will be in the next four years and we want to be sure they are prepared to do their research and make informed decisions. Our mock debate and election allows students to have a real-world experience with the process."
Though students at LHS are taking the presidential election seriously, eighth-graders in Amanda Vara's Pre-AP U.S. history class at Durham Middle School (DMS) have been learning about the election process and working on a complex mock presidential election campaign they dubbed "Dragon Elections" since early October.
With Vara's support, students took initiative to target voters at DMS and beyond.
"Our election started out as ... a fun way for students to solve a real-world problem," student Justin Pilgreen said. "The problem posed is this: Only 49 percent of 18- to 24-year-old adults voted in the 2008 presidential election. Our job has been to get more people in that age group to vote in this election. We're doing this by simulating the election and voting process at our own school."
The students divided in to Rock the Vote, electoral college, mock election, mock debate, video and documentation and community and communications committees. Each committee did in-depth work to find ways to encourage students to vote, inform them about past elections, learn about the electoral college, research the candidates' plans, create a comprehensive website and reach out to the community to spread their message.
"My class is working hard to conduct the election as close to the real thing as possible," Vara said. "They even developed an electoral college system for our campus and, in order to vote, DMS students must use their student ID card number to access an electronic ballot hosted on our school's website."
The electoral college system developed by Vara's students apportioned votes based on enrollment in social studies classes by teacher. The candidate who won the popular vote in each class received all of the electoral votes allowed for that particular class.
Dragon Elections allowed early voting before and after school and, like in the real world, students had to find time during their day to vote. The school's mock election was held on Election Day, a day where some LISD campuses serve as polling places for the actual election.
"Look. The grownups get to do a mock election too," one Creekside Elementary first-grader said.