B y Krystle S. Morey and Serena Kovalosky

While Americans traveled to the polls Tuesday morning, local students were casting their votes in a mock election at local high schools..
Before the country knew who the next president would be, the students had predicted the outcome – Donald Trump.
Just like the national ballots, the students were given a choice of candidates Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. The national ballots, however, also included other candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

Granville
Of the 211, students who voted in the mock election Tuesday at the Granville Jr./Sr. High School, 62.6 percent of them voted for Trump.
“It’s cool to be able to vote,” said eleventh-grader Matthew Parker.
Parker, 16, is not old enough to cast an official vote, but enjoyed being able to have his voice heard, even if it was just in a mock election.
“I think they are taking it seriously too,” said poll watcher Kontessa Siliski while her classmates were voting.
Before the votes were counted, Parker said he thought Trump would win the school’s election.
“Most of my friends think he will win,” he said.
Also on the school’s ballot was the Spirit Night theme. They chose between “Do you believe?” (magicians, ghosts, wizardry and witches) and “Around the World” (countries and cultures).
“The Spirit Night theme actually counts, so it’s nice for them to have a say,” Siliski said.
Tenth-grader Destinie Morris said she is glad she and her classmates could vote in the mock election.
“Everyone should have a chance to vote,” she said. “Some kids know more about it than some adults who get to vote do.”
“It is important for students to have a feel for the election process,” said Sara Collins, special education and social studies teacher and student council advisor. “We need to prepare them for the process of voting, for having a stake in our government.”
Two-hundred and eleven students, grades 7-12, voted in the school-wide election, which was held during lunch periods on Election Day. Members of the student council and the senior class volunteered to be poll watchers.
A majority of them spent some time prior to the mock election discussing the election process and the candidates in their social studies and government classes.
“We are focusing on it regularly in seventh grade,” Collins said.
The students voted during lunch periods using Google Forms on Google Chromebooks.
In the past, students would write their vote on a paper ballot and submit it in a box in the lunch room, which was much more difficult and time-consuming to get an accurate count.
“It was a painstaking process to count votes,” Collins said. “The Google Forms, so the form will calculate for us.”

Whitehall

History students at Whitehall High School cast their ballots last Monday and elected Donald Trump as President of the United States.
Although most of them were not yet 18, the students got the chance to vote and learn more about the election process, thanks to Whitehall High School history teacher Justin Culligan.
Among the juniors and seniors who voted, 49 of them voted for Trump. Hillary Clinton recieved 18 votes.
Third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson also received votes. Stein had three, compatred to Johnson’s two.
Some students also wrote in candidates including Harambe, Bernie Sanders and Vermin Supreme.
Culligan organized an in-class voting session and developed a teaching program around the 2016 elections for his 11th grade history and 12th grade government classes.
“The focus was on developing citizenship so students will know what is expected of them when they get out in the world,” said Culligan.
He found that many of his students were overwhelmed by the negativity of the campaign and the strongly partisan politics.
“They found it to be ‘a turnoff’ until I explained that elections have always been like this,” Culligan said. “The difference today is that elections are more driven by social media.”
As part of the learning process, students watched and discussed the Presidential debates, focusing on the moderators’ questions and how they were answered.
“I taught them to tune out the ‘reactionary stuff’ and look at what each candidate was really saying,” said Culligan.
When asked if they felt confident in their choice of candidate, students in one of Culligan’s classes each felt they made the right decision.
“I voted for the candidate I agreed with most,” said Kia Rockwell, who said she learned to sort through the conflicting information on various news channels.
“There was a lot of student enthusiasm this year,” Culligan said. “Perhaps it’s because there were non-politicians running, one of which was already a television celebrity with a strong social media presence.”
Culligan said he hopes that the exercise helped students develop their own thoughts and beliefs based on educated research.
“These kids are going to go out into the world and they need to get used to facing people with different opinions,” he said.

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