Although he won handily on Tuesday, President Obama could have spared himself some pre-Election Day stress had he checked in with the students at PS 110.
After months of studying the civic duties of American citizens, including the responsibility to vote, on Monday, November 5th, democracy was put into action at a school-wide election. To make informed choices, before choosing a Commander-in-Chief, the students were introduced to both candidates and their policies.
Fifth grade Special Education teacher Genevieve La Riva, who spearheaded the semester-long initiative, said the students thoroughly researched President Obama and Mitt Romney along with running mates Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan. They read, watched videos and the debates and discussed the campaign each day in class, gaining an understanding of where their taxes are going and how to filter what the candidates were saying.
“Our real goal is to make the children more aware of their basic rights and responsibilities and to be engaged in the world around them,” La Riva explained. “I think we were successful. They’re very excited.”
On Monday, a makeshift voting booth was set up in a classroom and every student, grades one through five, got a chance to pick their leader. Exit polling was heavily in favor of Obama, with only one student believing Romney would win. Just like the real election, voter turnout was low, with many students still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. The result, a resounding 182 – 46 victory for the incumbent.
The school also made an effort to send the conversation home, encouraging the students to bring a get-out-the-vote message to their parents. After casting their own ballots, on Monday, a parade was held around McGolrick Park on Monday to remind moms and dads to get to the polls.
For La Riva, the PS 110 initiative was a resounding success. “Within the next decade, many of [the students] will be our next voters,” she said. “If we don’t engage them now, we’re going to continue to have low voter turnout and apathy.”
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