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Democracy at work:Leonard students get to vote like mom and dad

Leonard Elementary fourth-grader Sabrina Bucci uses a real voting booth to fill out her ballot for student council president and vice president. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
October 24, 2012 - While the rest of the country is still waiting to cast their votes for either the Romney/Ryan or Obama/Biden tickets, Leonard Elementary has already elected its new student council president and vice president.

Last week, 135 students in grades 3-5 literally went to the polls to elect Lexi Seitz as president and Addison Matz as vice president. Each won with 30 votes.

Instead of voting in their respective classrooms, the students walked down to the gym where they filled out their ballots in actual voting booths, loaned to the school by Addison Township.

The booths were designed to give students "more of a real-world" voting experience, according to fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Coggins, who serves as student council co-advisor with second-grade teacher Chelsea Schlak.

"One of our PTO moms, Heather Hull, even made 'I voted' stickers to hand out, just like we get as adults," she said.

Instead of just voting for their friends, students were repeatedly encouraged to choose candidates whom they felt were the most qualified for the positions and would do the best job leading the school.

The candidates gave speeches, hung campaign posters around the school and talked to fellow students about why they should vote for them. The idea was to elect candidates based solely on merit, how they represented themselves and their ability to be a role model, according to Coggins.

"We didn't let the students pass out any candy or pencils or anything like that," she said.

Coggins indicated the election was a good way to show students "they have a voice in what's happening in this school."

"I think they should have a choice in who they want to represent Leonard," she said. "It's also important because student council does a lot for the school. We do a lot of volunteering and community projects."

A total of eight students ran for president including Lou Sineo, Brooklyn Smith, Evan Covert, Ian Betley, Scott Masterson, Mya Bruno and Dylan Rebtoy.

Seven students vied for vice president including Garrett Kaer, Shane Ross, Kate Saville, Kate Wozniak, Tristan Burgess and Dan Sheppard.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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