Area students are participating in mock elections this week.


 Area students are participating in mock elections this week.


About 700 students at Western Wayne High School are expected to participate, from freshmen through seniors. “I think the whole idea of our educational system is to produce young people who can effectively participate in our democracy,” said WWHS history teacher Tim McClure. “I think it’s key to get them involved when they’re young because they’ll be our future decision makers.” McClure says they’ll be passing out paper ballots throughout the social studies/ government classes.


“At the senior level, they have researched the candidates, so they’re well versed in policies,” said Kendra Wayman, WWHS Social Studies Department Chairperson. “We cover the Electoral College significantly. So they understand, at the state-level, that one vote could change the outcome of a state and who gets those electoral votes.”  


The Damascus Area Elementary/ Middle School participated in the 2008 Pennsylvania Student Mock Election Program on Wednesday. About 300 students, third through eighth grade, entered the voting booths and cast their ballot for President. A preliminary tally found Republican nominee John McCain in the lead, said Pete Casazza, 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher.
Casazza said they spend quite a bit of time on current events in the classroom, so the kids are “pretty in tune with things that are going on.” Casazza says he emphasizes the importance of registering to vote when they turn 18 and taking their civic responsibility seriously.  


“The students were excited and they’re serious.” said Damascus Principal Maralyn Nalesnik. “It’s not unlike when you actually go to vote. It’s like a library feeling. That serious, hushed kind of silence. Students are thinking.” Nalesnik said the school even set up two mock voting booths, constructed by head custodian Ed Justice and Family and Consumer Science teacher Debbie Kussoff.


Wayne Highlands Middle School students, sixth through eighth grade, are also participating, with just under 600 students voting. Students are casting their votes for US President, Attorney General, Auditor General, and State Treasurer.  Eighth grade social studies teacher, Dave Wacker, said, “When we teach it, we are very fair. We’re not here to sway the kids. We’re here to make them understand.”


Speaking of one eighth grade class, who voted early, Wacker said, “I noticed after they voted, there was a lot of discussion.” Middle school students were also asked to answer three questions, whether or not school should be year round, should soda be taken out of school and should school uniforms be mandatory. Of his class of 25 students, 24 said school shouldn’t be year-round, 19 said soda shouldn’t be removed/ 6 said “yes,” and 24 students said “no” to school uniforms.


When students wondered what happens when you don’t vote, Wacker said, “Somebody’s going to be leading this Country. And you have a responsibility to participate. It’s one role of a citizen.” 
Mock election results, from throughout the Commonwealth, will be posted at www.dos.state.pa.us/mockelection.