GMMS students experience real world voting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011

During this highly active election season, the middle school students at Garyville

/Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School got a taste of real-life voting. Alicia Bailey, the Student Council Sponsor and a math teacher at GMMS, wanted to give the students the opportunity to vote using machines, which simulate real voting booths. She contacted the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, as part of the Voter Outreach program provided by the Department of State, she was able to give the sixth through eighth graders this invaluable experience, allowing them to vote on Student Council class representatives and the Homecoming Court.

“Not only are they voting using authentic voting machines, the students participated in campaigning, debating and creating flyers, and attended an assembly where the candidates had to introduce themselves. We wanted our elections to model not only what the students were learning in their social studies and language arts classrooms but also what is really occurring now in our parish and across the nation with the upcoming elections,” said Bailey.

The students met in an assembly the morning of the voting. Annette Cosme, Voter Outreach Specialist from the Secretary of State’s Office and Eliana DeFrancesch, St. John Clerk of Court, explained the voting process and the importance of voting to the students. “Not only does our department offer these outreach activities, we also go to schools to stress the importance of voting to students. Using these voting machines in the schools helps students to get familiar with the process and takes the fear out of eventually participating in real elections,” said Cosme. “We want students to learn that you should vote for the following reasons: to ensure your voice is heard, to make our state better for yourself and your family, and to vote because it is one of the most powerful rights that a citizen has.”

 After the morning assembly, students were dismissed to their classrooms, classes were then brought one-by-one to allow students to cast their votes. “I really liked voting; it was fun. I can’t wait until I can vote in a real election, especially for President,” said Destiny Reese, sixth-grader.

 “It is important that we provide our students the opportunity to participate in a similar experience to what their parents do as adults. We, of course, are preparing them daily to improve academically, but we also want to prepare them for life outside of our campus. We hope this teaches them the importance of their responsibility as a citizen — to vote in every election that they can; let their voices be heard,” stated Glenn Chenier, GMMS Principal.