PHS students take part in Election Day

Published 10:20 am Thursday, November 10, 2016

By BRIANA HARRIS / Staff Writer

PELHAM – Prior to the Nov. 8 General Election, Pelham High School held a school-wide mock election, and – just like in real life – Donald Trump won.

In the months leading up to the General Election, social studies teacher April Cullom said students have been participating in activities that teach them about the voting process.

In October, representatives from the Probate Office brought voting machines to the school to show students how they work and assisted students, who are 18 years old, with registering to vote.

“They got to see how the voting machines work and they even let them insert ballots into the machines,” Cullom said.

The school-wide election was held on Nov. 4, and Trump won the popular vote with 371 votes, to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 303 votes.

“Leading up to the mock election, we provided them with reputable sources so they could learn about each candidate’s stance on different issues,” Cullom said. “This is really the first election they’ll remember and I kind of feel bad for them because it’s been a pretty negative election. We’re trying to give them a positive experience in regards to the election.”

Through arrangements with the Probate Office, 11 students had the opportunity to work the polls on Election Day 2016. The students worked at different voting locations from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“The Probate Office said they could work as long as they were 18 years old and a registered voter,” Cullom said.

Like all poll workers, the students were paid $25 to attend a training course prior to the election and received $75 to work to the polls on Election Day.

“Students have been very interested in this election. They’re talking about it in the hallways and in class and we’re just trying to teach them to make their own decisions,” Cullom said. “Sometimes they ask me what I think and I tell them that it doesn’t matter what I think, and I ask them, ‘What do you think?’”

Student body president Katie Monti said most of the rhetoric she’s heard concerning the election has been extreme.

“People either have an extreme dislike of Trump or they extremely dislike Hillary Clinton,” she said. “Nobody is saying that they really support either candidate, just how much they dislike them. But either way, we’ll be okay.”

On Election Day, Cullom hosted a Red, White and Blue Party for each of her government and AP government classes. Students ate snacks, colored and played games like Pin the Toupee on Trump, Hit Hillary in the Eye with a Fly, presidential trivia and Electoral College review.

“At the end of the day, the goal was really just to make this a fun and memorable experience for them,” Cullom said.