They may not be old enough to elect the country’s next president, but pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students at Primrose School of Hickory Creek are learning what it means to vote.
On Monday, the school conducted “Election Day at Primrose,” an event teaching students the importance of voting and about the presidential election.
About 30 students had the opportunity to vote for the 2012 Presidential Class Mascot — incumbent Percy the Rooster or challenger Billy the Duck — and the Presidential Snack of the Day, cheese and crackers or yogurt and bananas.
“It’s kind of refreshing to get their innocent point of view,” said Melissa Horton, school director. “It’s just fun to see the innocence of why they chose a particular candidate, and it’s just an overall positive experience for them. It’s nice that it can be a positive event as opposed to the stress that comes with the real elections.”
The school had its first “Election Day at Primrose” in 2008, Horton said. The event is part of the character building curriculum and it gets back to the innocence of elections and how decisions are made, she said.
Outside the school Monday, cartoon campaign signs read “Vote for Billy” and “Vote for Percy.” On the door of a classroom were candidate debate quotes, one from Billy that read, “Quack, I will keep my promises, and I’m not a quack,” and one from Percy that read, “Cock-a-doodle-do, I am honest, how about you?”
Inside the classroom, students held campaign signs they created supporting their favorite mascot. They viewed a puppet debate in which Billy and Percy puppeteers, played by teachers, shared why the students should elect them mascot. Hickory Creek City Council member Lynn Clark, a special guest, discussed with students decisions made by voting and how she became an elected official through the voting process.
When the debate concluded, students lined up in single file with their voter registration card in hand — an index card with their photograph, signature and the words “Voter Registration Card” and “Valid: November 2012” — and made their way to a makeshift polling place where Clark verified their cards.
“The gleam in their eyes as they handed me their cards and got to make their choice, it was just an exciting event,” Clark said.
Students were handed a ballot, and they headed to booths at the front of the classroom to vote.Once their ballots were cast, the students received stickers that read “I voted” and another to support their favorite mascot candidate.
Five-year-old Jonathan Papaila and 4-year-old Sydney Smith called the class election fun.
In weeks prior to the event, Horton said students participated in activities in which they learned how voting is their right and civic duty as an American and how some people haven’t always had the right to vote. They also discussed how the outcome is not as important as exercising one’s right to vote, she said.
Students also created campaign posters and colored sheets about what it would be like to be president.
Clark read the book Duck for President to students while votes were counted. The book concluded and then came the moment the students had all waited for.
Students cheered as Horton announced that Billy the Duck defeated incumbent Percy to become the class mascot in a 19-10 vote and that yogurt and bananas won out as the afternoon snack 19-9.
Clark called the exercise a great opportunity for students to learn, see the voting process and be part of the process.
“It was really special,” she said. “I have grandchildren which are this age. I think it’s exciting for these children to participate in the voting process and learn how to vote at an early age and make good choices.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .