With students as young as kindergarten subjected to relentless political commercials, local educators found a way to get them involved in the election: the ballot box.
Of course, their votes don't count. But they do serve to inform kids that they will be able to participate someday.
"We had wanted a way for our students to learn how we choose our presidents," said Dr. Tim Grivois-Shah, assistant principal at Nelson School in Niles, part of East Maine Elementary District 63.
Nelson students from kindergarten to sixth grade came to the library, where parent volunteers, acting as poll workers, checked their names and allowed them to vote online.
"Dr. LeBlanc (Nelson's principal) and I wanted students to participate as a way of cultivating a habit of voting, and knowing the importance of making that choice wisely," Grivois-Shah said."Teachers taught about the electoral process."
Those lessons were more basic in the lower grades and more in-depth in fifth and sixth grades, he noted.
The final results at Nelson? President Obama-492, Governor Romney-135.
Other schools participated as well.
On the elementary and middle school level:
- Emerson Middle School in Niles, part of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, held a voluntary mock election as part of Red Ribbon Week, said Principal Jim Morrison. Two-thirds of the student population chose to take part, the results were: Romney received 45% of the votes and Obama 55%.
- Gemini Junior High in Niles, part of District 63, held a mock election for President in conjunction with its real election for student council members. Social Studies Teacher George Ballas reported that while the student council elections were quite close, the presidential vote was not. It came to 290 for Obama/Biden and 38 for Romney/Ryan.
- Mark Twain School in District 63 held a mock election Friday, said Principal Nichole Gross; results were not available at post time.
- Melzer School in Morton Grove, part of District 63, is having a mock election Monday, said Principal Shawn Schleizer.
- Stevenson School in Des Plaines, part of District 63, held a mock election for students in grades 3-6. Principal Howard Sussman said the school purchased an election program that contained lessons and an on-line voting program. The deadline was extended due to Superstorm Sandy.
- Park View School in Morton Grove District 70 is holding a mock election on Election Day, Nov. 6, according to superintendent Dr. Phil Collins.
On the high school level:
- Many students at Maine South High School in Park Ridge are participating as election judges at local polling places through Cook County Clerk David Orr's office. Social studies teachers held a mock election for seniors, some of who are 18 and thus old enough to vote at official polls.
- At Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, teacher Tim Jarotkiewicz is holding a mock election on Election Day, Nov. 6.