The process was orderly, the chatter courteous and excited, and bright young minds turned towards the future. And so it went that, though hurricane clean-up efforts made voting a challenge for a number of New Jersey citizens, students at The Peck School symbolically cast their ballots alongside the rest of America to vote for their next President.
To commemorate National Election Day on November 6, 2012, Peck students held a morning assembly to review the importance, and the gift, that is the democratic process. Students across all grades had been learning age-appropriate lessons about democracy and elections, and candidates and campaigns, since the summer. (For example, the third grade recently held their own mock primaries to nominate candidates for their two parties, the “Dinner Party” and the “Breakfast Party!”)
The fourth and eighth grades co-led today’s Election Assembly. First up were the fourth graders who presented a clever skit about the election; they played “Election Jeopardy” (written by Fourth Grade Teachers Sherri Rotz and Antonia Pelaez), and teaching their peers a number of facts and little-known trivia about the democratic process and presidential history. Though the recent storm forced them to postpone the presentation to today, they delivered this incredibly creative, thoughtful, and often-humorous skit flawlessly.
Upper School Teacher Matt Sigrist then led a short, interactive demonstration on the percentage of people voting in the 2008 election. After first asking all students to stand, he “eliminated” groups of ‘voters’ that didn’t or couldn’t participate in the 2008 election—leaving less than half of the room standing. Amidst gasps and surprised faces, Mr. Sigrist asked what is the moral of this lesson?
“Exercise your rights while you have them, ” Sixth Grader Ethan Mandel said.
Lastly, the eighth grade demonstrated their knowledge of their in-depth studies about the current election and candidates. In a lively back-and-forth question and answer session with History Teacher Tim Clark, the eighth grade led their peers through a storyline about the election. They talked about the timeline of the election process (it’s not just this one day, don’t forget primaries!), the purpose of conventions, and how voting works with the Electoral College. Many an eyebrow raised in surprise when the rest of the students learned that there have been no fewer than four Presidential candidates who received the popular vote but still lost the election!
Later in the day, these lessons, and the lessons all students had been learning about democracy, lead to their culminating event—symbolically voting in the country’s National Election. Students in grades four through eighth were emailed a sample ballot the day before, and then cast their votes at designated “polling places” during a set time in the early afternoon.
Ballots were counted at the close of the school day. With all “precincts” reporting, the Republican Party took 65% of the vote, and the Democratic Party 32%. Two percent went to the Green Party, and 1% to an Independent Party.
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