Bexley students let their choices be heard by voting

Rachel Niswander’s fourth graders at Maryland Elementary discussed the characteristics of a good leader. They also followed an election process timeline and learned about the Electoral College.

Bexley Middle School eighth grade students researched and completed projects on six of the most important elections in American history.
Montrose students, 267 of the 1,051 Bexley students participating, slipped into mock voting booths in their school library on Nov. 4.

Students all over the district took away various civics lessons from the recent election with the help of the local affiliate of a national nonprofit. Kids Voting Central Ohio is a nonpartisan civic education organization providing curriculum, training and election opportunities to teachers and students in grades K-12. Sixteen Central Ohio school districts, including Bexley, and some 87,000 student voters participated in Kids Voting activities this year.

"Students in hundreds of schools in central Ohio researched the candidates and issues, took part in debates, made posters, talked with their parents and peers before taking their place in the mock election voting booths," said Jeff Cabot, Executive Director of Kids Voting Central Ohio.

"We compared the two presidential candidates by looking at their personal experience/history and published quotes on some of the issues," Niswander said. "Students filled out bingo cards by watching the debates and came up with two essential questions to ask the candidates and reasons why their questions were important."

The students also made connections and discussed local and state elections and issues and then, on Monday before the election, the students who chose to were given time to vote. 

"They could vote for just the President or complete the same ballot adults did for Bexley," Niswander said.

Middle School students researched national, state and local candidates – including independent and third-party candidates — and issues on non-partisan websites like SmartVote.org, according to Michelle Rowley-Welsch, seventh grade social studies teacher.

On Oct. 30 and Nov. 3, the middle schoolers voted in their seventh and eighth grade Social Studies classes for candidates and issues through KidsVoting Central Ohio.  On Wednesday and Thursday following the general election, the classes analyzed and discussed the election results.

Maryland teacher Lyndsay Young noted that KidsVoting Board Member Sean Mentel came in and spoke to sixth grade students about the organization. 
"He discussed registering to vote, how and where to vote, what each office in the election does, different types of elections (general, primary, and special), and then they were able to vote," she said.  "The students loved the ‘I voted’ stickers we received when we were done."

Cassingham students in Grades 1-6 participated in Kids Voting Central Ohio as well. 

A letter was sent home a week before the election and a voter registration form was attached. Parents and students were asked to sign and return the form. Student council reps from each list kept a list of "registered voters."
The school also included the Web site so parents could check out ideas for home activities and links to candidates and issues, as well as had Election Connection – daily trivia questions for primary and intermediate announced on our On TRACK new program. Students put answers in containers at the entrance to the library and a winner was draw from each group . 

Cassingham’s voting took place on Nov. 3 in the computer lab and library. The school had parent volunteers to help students log on.

KidsVoting totals for Bexley included victory for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who earned 65 percent of the vote, compared to John McCain’s 29 percent (full central Ohio totals had Senator Obama’s winning margin at 71 percent). Richard Cordray was elected Ohio Attorney General with 62 percent of Bexley’s student vote.

To learn more about KidsVoting, visit www.kidsvotingoh.org.

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