Part 5 of 5
Northview scheduled mock elections Monday, a day before the real election day. But with the hallways ablaze with political campaign posters and almost every class touching on the subject, the entire student body has been a buzz about this year's election.
Calvin Vitz, economics teacher and election events organizer, enjoys the students classroom discussion. "Our main concern is to get our students involved now, while we have some influence, so they will continue to vote as adults."
All departments have stressed the importance of politics throughout all grade levels, but the senior class has had the greatest exposure to political instruction through government and economics classes.
"It's their civic duty as citizens, almost a sacred duty because men died for that right. It's good to teach this anytime," said John Pliskin, who teaches geography and U.S. history. "But at this time it teaches students the current events of their lives."
Taking advantage of the actual ballots being used in the Nov. 2 election, and using an actual voting machine, seniors have learned how to vote and studied the issues from every angle possible by creating profiles of each candidate on the ballot. Then, using technology to its greatest advantage, students have checked out political Web sites to aid their decisions.
"The Internet allows all voters to be more well informed than ever of the political candidates' stand on issues of importance." said Tony Trout, one of the election activities organizers in the social studies department at Northview.
The Motor Voter Registration Program used each spring and fall in school to register students, had 80 Northview seniors of voting age register for this year's election.
"Approximately 85 to 90 percent of those students will actually place their first vote this year." Trout said. "Preparing students to place that first vote is one of my most important responsibilities as a Government teacher at Northview."
Some students, chosen by local candidates, will even be working the polls during election day. About 50 students will be excused from school, while others plan to use the information they've learned in school to work in the voting booths.
"Everyone is upset about the deaths of soldiers, but they've forgotten why they're there in the first place," said Shane Cooper, who registered to vote at school this year.
"The war is important because we have family and friends over there." said Brittney Rhea, 18, who felt that spending time on the issues in class helped her make a better choice for president; which is different now than when the month began. She agreed with her fellow classmates, then added. "But the two candidates seem to be squabbling over silly things now, not staying on the issues."
Studying the political process educated the senior class to the fundamentals of government, but a few still found it difficult.
"Class time made me realize the importance of my vote," said Maureen Crispin, 17-year-old, who was grateful she didn't have to vote this year. "But I don't think the Electoral College is fair; an individual's vote should matter."
"It's a very difficult process to choose the right candidate," said Tony Sanabria, 17, who felt the pivotal issue this year was the war on terror. "But I know that if I don't vote; I can't complain. I will vote in the future."
These students will graduate in just a few months, facing a world of issues that many adults don't want to be involved with, much less vote on.
"Studying this in school will make younger students aware of its importance. Because as you get older, you become more serious about your civic duty," said Addie Brown, 18, who will be voting this year. "What you vote for matters to the world. Don't vote, and we put ourselves at risk."
By reaching students now, getting them involved, many educators across the country agree that this is the key to a brighter future for America.
Christina Young, a senior excited to be voting this year, summed everything up. "Learning politics begins as a child. Our values are taught and instilled by our parents and family, then those values are strengthened through knowledge."