Students work the polls

Published 4:52 pm Thursday, December 22, 2016

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Preparing student to be college and career ready is both a new and an old movement in connection with K-12 schooling. Recent students enjoy more opportunities at school and in workplaces to engage in activities that will fill their adult lives.

While the phrasing college and career readiness is contemporary, teachers have always worked to give students authentic experiences. Senior-year Social Studies prepares students for the patriotic duty and privilege of voting that becomes theirs when they turn 18. In Alabama, high school seniors take one semester of government. Especially during an election year, studying government becomes very real-word for students.

PHS government teacher April Cullom planned a new way for students to be involved in voting this year. Cullom arranged for several PHS students to be poll workers at their neighborhood voting locations.

“This is an awesome opportunity for our students to see government in action and participate in the process,” said Cullom. Eleven PHS students worked on Nov. 8 from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. as poll workers at Pelham city polling places.

At Riverchase Church of Christ, poll worker Claudia McGill working alongside veteran poll worker Kay Dummier. A retired Valley Elementary teacher, Dummier said, “Having a young person here has been great. We’ve had her do a little bit of everything so she knows what being a poll worker is about. During her breaks, she’s done homework.”

“I learned that poll workers have specific and important jobs to do to ensure that everyone has the right to vote,” said PHS senior Claudia McGill. “I was also surprised to see many of my neighbors—both working and voting.”

Each student worked in the polling site where they vote. PHS senior Daniel Palacios worked at a different Pelham voting site from McGill.

“The number of people that voted was astounding,” said Palacios. “I loved seeing the democratic process at work and I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at the polls.”

Hopefully, students having and sharing this experience will result in many more young Pelham voters in future elections.