Students take to the polls
Students at Rutledge Hall in Lincolnwood line up to get ballots from special education/ELL teacher Cathy Winckler to vote in the first school-wide election for the Student Activities Council on Oct. 23. | Contributed photo
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:41PM
LINCOLNWOOD — Lincolnwood elementary students are learning lessons in civic responsibility this fall when they take to the polls.
To prepare for Tuesday’s presidential election, Rutledge Hall participated Oct. 23 in the first school-wide election for its Student Activities Council.
Six pairs of fifth-grade teams vied for president and vice president positions. The roles are intended to give children a louder voice and increase their participation in the school’s activities, including various fundraising efforts, said special education/ELL teacher Cathy Winckler.
Winckler and child case manager Jeri Felsenthal organized the election and kept the process as realistic as possible, using official polling booths and asking kids to show their lunch cards as identification.
The student candidates developed platforms of their causes, drew campaign posters and prepared speeches. Teachers helped them think reasonably about their abilities and not make promises they couldn’t keep, like serving ice cream every Friday, Winckler said.
“We what to drive home for them being an informed voter means getting to know the candidates and what voting is all about before the national election,” she said.
More than 400 third- through fifth-grade students cast paper ballots in a close race with candidates separated by less than two dozen votes. The winning team was Ceana Plurad for president and Leila Hoxha for vice president.
The activity served as primer for next Monday’s mock election held throughout Lincolnwood School District 74.
Student are casting both popular and electoral votes to learn about America’s presidential election process.
Each classroom, assigned a state, will vote in accordance with a time zone. For Rutledge classrooms, polling stations are open from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m..
All ballots from the district’s three schools are being sent to Lincoln Hall, the designated election command center, where middle schoolers will color a U.S. map in accordance with the classroom’s electoral votes.
Teachers will then use the map as a tool for comparison with actual election results.
Four years ago Rutledge students accurately predicted Barack Obama’s victory, said Principal Jean Weiss.
She said getting kids excited about the election helps prepare them for when their vote actually matters.
“If they’re not informed they’re not going to become good citizens and do their civic duty and vote,” she said. “They need to know it really is important and that their voice needs to be heard.”