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Walden Students Get Educated About Electoral Process

A student votes behind the privacy barrier while another signs in to vote. Teaching Assistant Ana Pascarelli and BOCES Superintendent James Ryan look on.
A student votes behind the privacy barrier while another signs in to vote. Teaching Assistant Ana Pascarelli and BOCES Superintendent James Ryan look on. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. -- A lucky classroom of students at the Walden School at Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES recently learned about the electoral process, just in time to make the recent election make sense.

Because this week's election was one for the record books, teacher Debra Haggerty spent the last few weeks teaching her students about the electoral process, culminating in a mock election held Monday that ironically was won by Hillary Clinton.

During the course, students in Haggerty’s class not only learned about the three branches of government, they had the opportunity to learn about the two major parties, heard from elected officials from both parties, registered to vote in Walden’s mock election, and cast their vote.

“I wanted them to understand the responsibility of being a U.S. citizen and the privilege of being a citizen,” Haggerty said, adding that the class stayed away from discussing specifics about either presidential candidate.

Instead, the class focused on civic responsibility and discussed respecting different points of view.

Along the way, the students learned about women’s suffrage and about the15th Amendment, which granted African-American men the right to vote.

“The kids were surprised that there was a time when women and African-Americans could not vote,” Haggerty said.

“We got to learn about politics and ask questions,” said student Jaden McCrae, adding that he liked getting his picture taken with state Sen. Terrence Murphy and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, each of whom visited the class.

Every step in the electoral process was played out as realistically as possible, with students registering to vote in advance and signing in to vote on “election day” just as adult voters do on the real Election Day.

Monday’s polling place featured a table where voters looked up their names and signed in to vote, a paper ballot and a privacy screen for voting.

Fiona O’Hare-Brini, a 7th grader, said it was exciting to vote. “I think it is a close election,” Fiona said. “My family has always been interested in the election, and they are constantly talking about it.”

Student Brandon Iscoa said it was his “first time voting,” adding that before learning about the electoral process he wasn’t really interested in the presidential election.”

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