Mock elections teach students the process

Several area schools took advantage of the election season to state their own mock elections. That included a scenario that pitted the Bronco and Bulldog parties in Bement Elementary School, and a special ‘caramel apple election for kindergarten and first graders at Monticello.

The themes varied, but the idea was the same: To give kids a feel for what it’s like to take part in an election.

Of course, there were some differences between the local activities and Tuesday’s real thing.

“The only stipulation in campaigning was they couldn’t slam the other candidate,” said Amanda Fairchild, a third grade teacher in Bement. Second and third graders formed two parties – Bronco and Bulldog to take advantage of the friendly rivalry with co-op partner Cerro Gordo – and not only chose candidates, but put up posters and even filmed commercials.

“We wanted to stay away from using ‘Democrats’ and ‘Republicans’ because then kids might just go with what their parents are saying at home. This way they could kind of form their own opinions,” said Fairchild.

There was even a tie vote in the Bulldog primary, which resulted in a runoff between the top two vote-getters. Makalyn Teague ended up with the nomination to face off against Xander Hutchcraft, the Bronco candidate. The election was set for this past Tuesday; results were not known at press time.

Caramel Apple Election
The entryway to Lincoln Elementary School looked just like a polling place on Oct. 30. There were election judges and voting booths, and students were required to sign in before voting.

Students had studied the election process through a book entitled “The Caramel Apple Election,” which pits red and green apples against each to choose which makes the best caramel apple. After signing in with an election judge, students sampled both ‘candidates’ then proceeded to a voting booth to record which they thought made the best caramel apple.

“This lets them vote on something that’s meaningful to them,” said Lincoln Principal Mary Vogt. She said she overheard comments from students that included “this is the hardest decision I’ve ever made. They’re both so delicious.”

In a close vote, red apples won out over green ones by a 123-113 tally.

This is the first year the school hosted this particular mock election. Vogt said it will probably be repeated again in the future, but is not likely to be an annual event.

Several classes are also doing their own studies on the election process. Fifth grade teacher Brad Garrett has students running their own election, and followed national election coverage throughout the day. At Monticello High School, social studies instructor Brian Gorman said government classes have been paying close attention to the presidential race. The process led up to election day, when students could vote between the presidential candidates and be part of a nationwide mock election being tracked by the Pearson Foundation.




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