Here’s the latest from an annual tradition at the Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School in Croton:
CROTON-ON-HUDSON – The day before the national election, students at Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School were busy exercising their own right to vote, in mock voting booths set up in their school cafeteria.
Next to the lunch tables were two fixtures of any election: a sign-in table manned by dedicated volunteers and a row of curtained voting booths. The volunteers were students in Richard Norris’ Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES class, the same students who had constructed the red and blue voting booths.
The BOCES class at PVC serves students with a variety of social, learning and emotional needs. Students in Norris’ class have been learning about elections for the past month, researching candidates, making posters and organizing smaller, class-wide elections.
“The idea was to get the students engaged in the voting process,” said Norris. “It doesn’t have to do with policy or a particular candidate,” he continued, “but rather our right and responsibility to take part in the process.”
As students filed into the cafeteria, Norris’ students signed them in, handed them a paper ballot and directed them to the voting booths. While waiting in line, students chatted about the upcoming election and engaged in some friendly banter about the candidates. Upon emerging from the voting booths, students were handed a sticker proclaiming that they had voted.
Remarked seventh grade student Emily Kehoe, “I think it’s really cool for kids to get to express themselves by voting.” Students from Norris’ class seemed to feel the same way, as they smiled and helped their fellow students. As the fourth and last lunch period filed out, Norris announced that the election had garnered a 70 percent participation rate, and when the final vote was tallied, Barack Obama had received 75 percent of the votes, Mitt Romney 22 percent.
Norris thanked Page Printing of Peekskill for assisting in the student-run election, by providing printing services for some of the larger posters and the “I Voted” stickers.