UCS students elect to celebrate democracy

Students exercise their right to learn about the election process

Utica Community Schools students are exercising their right to learn about the election process.

At schools throughout the district, students are participating in mock elections to following lessons about the democratic process.

Below are some of those election activities.

Beck Elementary

It was as real as it could get Monday for Beck Elementary students.

Beck students used an authentic voting booth to cast their ballots, going through the same process their parents will today.

The students had voter identification cards, were required to verify their home address, voted in an authentic booth and placed their ballots in a real voting box.

The students voted on eight school themes, such as their favorite book character or their favorite reading series.

The voting data was gathered by parent volunteers, and the students elected to use their math skills by interpreting the results and making pictographs and bar graphs.

DeKeyser Elementary

This election was a matter of taste for DeKeyser Elementary students.

Students participated in a real election Monday, but the big difference beween their candidates and the ones their parents will consider today is that DeKeyser hosted a Presidential Candy Bar Election.

Students considered red and blue candidates - Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or Twix. There were even campaign posters and slogans for the candidates.

Students registered to vote and presented their voter registration card to enter the voting booth. Electoral votes will be counted by classrooms - each representing a state - on Wednesday when the Presidential Candy Bar will be named.

Schwarzkoff Elementary

Voting was a treat at Schwarzkoff Elementary.

Students voted in this year’s presidential election with their taste buds.

Thanks to a partnership with Mannino’s Bakery in Sterling Heights, students celebrated the election this year with blue or red frosted cupcakes.

The event was designed to stress the importance of voting in a democratic society. Each classroom represented a state, and live election coverage ran on the school’s internal TV station.

"I really liked learning about the electoral college and how many votes each state gets," said sixth grader Viktoria Mihailovic.

Heritage/Utica Academy of International Studies

A two-week unit of study on the major political parties’ platforms and the Electoral College system preceded a mock presidential election in which students at Heritage Junior High and Utica Academy for International Studies (UAIS) cast ballots.

The event was part of a nationwide student mock election conducted by Youth Leadership Initiative as a way to spark lifelong interest and participation in the American democratic process.

At Heritage and UAIS, the social studies classes were aligned to represent various states in the ‘winner take all’ voting process, said teacher Kimberly Hall. She credited UAIS senior Lauren Rutkowski for organizing the polls with assistance from National Honor Society and Junior National Honor Society students.

To be eligible for a ballot, students first had to follow a simulated registration process and then show their voter cards before closing the curtains on the voting booths set up in the school’s media center.

Eighth grader Abigail Tipton is a veteran of two presidential elections, having also voted in 2008 as a fourth grader at Collins Elementary. She said she is interested in the national race and enjoyed picking her candidate.

Rutkowski, who hopes to attend Georgetown University next fall, said she began planning the mock election in September and believes the experience is worthwhile for students.

Eisenhower High School

Eisenhower High School students think that politics rock.

Thanks to the school's Student Council, more than 1,500 students learned more about the political process and issues on this year's presidential ballot.

The students took part in a special "Rock the Vote" assembly that featured speakers from both political parties and an overview of the political process. They also had an opportunity to register to vote if they were over 18.

"I think we succeeded in that many students walked away with information about how to make a better decision," said Lorenzo Santavicca, a member of the student council's organizing committee.

The students also participated in a simulated voting process.

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