The district’s students are learning that as members of a democratic society, we all have civic responsibilities. These concepts are explored in a variety of curricular areas, whether through literature and persuasive and opinion writing in English language arts, the discussion of history and the branches of the government in social studies, or the volunteerism and community service in which so many students are involved.
For some, this year’s election has created an opportunity to connect these lessons to current events. At the high school, five Advanced Placement Government students attended the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, participated in a mock debate and spoke with several news broadcasters.
At the elementary level, students learn about the civic responsibility of voting and the U.S. election process. This year, several classes in grades three through five read thematic articles or anthology stories such as “Vote” and “Our Voices Count,” while others strengthened their research skills and reviewed current event topics using age-appropriate Weekly Reader magazines. After formulating their own opinions, elementary students wrote persuasive essays and designed campaign posters. Some also wrote opinion pieces regarding their thoughts on what the characteristics of a good president are, based upon their learning of how government works. “A good president should take care of the country,” said fourth-grader Natalie Ramirez.
In past years, the voting process had been explored as students cast votes for their favorite foods, colors, book genres, etc. This year, some classes had the opportunity to experience voting firsthand by casting anonymous votes for the presidential candidate of their choice during mock elections at their schools.
More important than who the students selected for president was the opportunity they had to participate in the democratic process. “It’s good for us to learn about voting,” said fifth-grader Aaron Diplan. “In the Constitution, it says the power belongs to the people. If we don’t vote, we have no power.”