Part 4 of 5
They may be too young to vote, but not too young to care.
North Clay Middle School students spent last week, the week before the presidential election, paying close attention to all the rhetoric and news reports. They prepared to make their own decisions with in-class discussion, voter registration, and televised debates within the school before voting today.
The experience is planned to be as close to the actual election process as possible.
Sept. 11, 2001, caused a burst of national pride in young Americans, and a rejuvenation of civic duty.
"Terrorism is a major issue that will effect them their entire lifetime," said Grant Watts, an organizer of the mock debates. "It plays a major role in their future choices."
Sixth graders, many able to vote in their first presidential election in 2012, have the important task of registering the student body, and any teachers who want to participate. Voter registration is the foundation upon which any republic survives, and this point does not miss the attention of the students in charge of this process at school.
Just as in the adult world, students who want to vote must take the time to register between classes and lunchtime at team booths set up in the gymnasium by showing their ID. Approximately 392 students and teachers are expected to register during the three days the booths will be open.
Studying the development of free elections taking place in Afghanistan, the hope of future elections in Iraq, and the presidential election of 2000, these students have learned the impact, significance, and power one vote can have.
Seventh graders, a few who will be old enough to vote in 2008, are handling the election day voting process. Ballots will be handed out today and then tallied.
Televised debates shown during homeroom periods on Oct. 28, which center on foreign policy, and the 29th, which cover domestic policy, are the responsibility of the eighth grade class; many of which will be eligible to vote in the 2008 election.
Evan Deal and Greg Reisinger portrayed the Republican candidates while Cole Stultz and Devin Ahern represented the Democrat candidates during the mock debates.
"Studying the political system now in school is good," said Evan Deal, who chose to portray President George W. Bush because of his tax reduction plan. "Kids need to start thinking about their future now."
Cole Stultz, who chose to portray Sen. John Kerry because of his views on stem cell research, agreed with his rival.
"Better education allows students by the time they are old enough to vote to make better decisions, making their voice heard," he said.
Greg Reisinger, who is portraying Vice President Dick Cheney, but also identifies with Kerry on some issues, feels voting is important for everyone.
"If we know and understand the process of govern ment better, voters can make choices that insure better lives for children to seniors," he said.
"Learning now, insures wise choices made about our countries future." said Devin Ahern, who will get to vote for the first time in the presidential election of 2012. "As we found out in the 2000 election, everything is important: The issues we face, and the votes we make. That election was decided by approximately 247 people."
As the group continued their planning for the mock school debates, central issues like education, terrorism, healthcare, civil rights, and the economy were discussed. These are key issues in this election, and undoubtedly will remain so in the future, but the students at NCMS are up to the challenge.
Tomorrow: Northview gets political.