On Tuesday, November 3rd, student after student sat herself down in a trifold voting booth to cast her campus ballot. Pen in hand, she had the opportunity to vote for her preferred presidential candidate; her choices for Brookside mascot, colors, and motto; as well as her choice on a range of political issues. One hundred percent of the student body participated in the election.
Ms. Carly Pringle, a teacher at Hillcrest’s Brookside ITU, came up with the idea of having campus elections last year with the student council. They promptly put registration day on the agenda for October 2020. Brookside student council has since faded away for now, as COVID-19 still affects daily life, but Pringle felt strongly that campus elections should still take place.
“[We] have some students that are 16, 17, 18, who will be able to go out and vote when they leave here. It’s important,” Pringle said. Giving students the opportunity to see what that process will look like was still a priority. “I tried to [create] the steps so they would know [what to expect.] You have to go in, check in, you don’t have to show your I.D., but you do have to have your address,” she continued.
The first event the campus held was voter registration day, which they held in late October. Classrooms were called one at a time, for social distancing purposes. Newly registered voters were presented with a sticker, lollipop, and voter I.D. card. The exercise was completely voluntary, and all but two girls registered.*
Each classroom had the opportunity to contribute a ballot question. They also selected questions from the ISideWith quiz, which the students found particularly interesting. Each teacher talked through the questions that would be presented, as well as the available choices.
Turnout was high on election day. Everyone who registered turned out*, and staff were encouraged to participate as well. Being the enthusiastic crowd Hillcrest staff tend to be, they were all eager to join in.
The election results showed that student opinions vary, just as our country’s do. But the campus elected to be the Brookside Black Cats who wear blue, white, and yellow. Their new motto is “Building amazing young people together.”
There is a spirit at Hillcrest of preparing students with skills and experiences that will help them succeed when they leave. Cooking classes, on campus stores such as Brookstyle and The Bird’s Nest, and additional vocational programming, such as gardening education and the ASD Residential Program’s voc class all are available to set students up with success as adults. Events like campus elections contribute to that preparedness.
*Students who did not register to vote were not prohibited from voting in campus elections. Staff felt it was most important for students to have the experience and practice.
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