Program offers students chance to register to have a say Nov. 2
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 17, 2010 1:46 PM
News-Argus/MICHAEL K. DAKOTA
Eastern Wayne High School student Collin Hobbs, kneeling, registers to vote during a visit by Wayne County election specialist Connie Kammler, far left, in the school cafeteria. Also pictured, from left, are Kristin Baddour, student government president; Joseph Chaney, senior class president; and Chantrel Reynolds, senior member at large, who helped register students who are eligible to vote.
News-Argus/MICHAEL K. DAKOTA
The voter drive is part of Constitution Day celebrations around the county.
As election season looms, the Wayne County Board of Elections has expanded its efforts by promoting voter awareness through area schools.
Voter registration and pre-registration events such as Constitution Day -- today marks the 223rd anniversary of signing of the U.S. Constitution -- have kept workers busy, said Vickie Reed, director at the Board of Elections.
By next week's end, staff will have been to 13 area high schools, pre-registering a new pool of voters.
Joyce Cunningham, director of social studies for Wayne County Public Schools, said the district has worked with the Board of Elections for several years.
"(We) hold annual voter registration and pre-registration events for students who are 18 or who will turn 18 by the next election," she said. "Because the General Assembly changed the legal age requirement for voter pre-registration, our high schools will also work to inform 16- and 17-year-old students that if they choose to pre-register, they can be ready to vote when they turn 18."
House Bill 908 was signed into law effective Jan. 1.
Schools typically incorporate key topics of government elections and the voting process into civics lessons, Mrs. Cunningham said. So having a tie-in with the local board is an added bonus.
"We are appreciative of the Wayne County Board of Elections for its continued efforts to work with our high schools to enhance classroom curriculums and promote voter awareness," she said.
"We're taking some of the forms out with us, we do a little program where we can on their lunch hours," Ms. Reed explained. "From what I can understand, we've gotten a very good reception at the schools and are getting very good cooperation."
Preliminary numbers of students pre-registering to vote have been impressive, she added.
"Last week, we went to Wayne Country Day School and Goldsboro High School -- 11 registered from Wayne Country Day and 38 from Goldsboro High," she said. "This week, we went to Wayne Christian, registered four, Rosewood High, where we registered 17, and Spring Creek High School, where we had 48."
Staff also went to Eastern Wayne High School on Thursday and today are at Wayne Community College as part of Constitution Day events. Next week, plans are to go to Wayne Academy, Charles B. Aycock, Wayne School of Engineering, Southern Wayne, Wayne Early/Middle College High School and Faith Christian.
Once registered, Ms. Reed said, student names are added to a voter registry program so that when they turn 18, they will not have to register again.
Public schools around the county are also involved in a variety of activities today as part of Constitution day.
At Carver Elementary in Mount Olive, pre-k and kindergarten students were creating an American flag made out of red, white and blue handprints, while third-graders were to do a social studies lesson on the history of the Constitution and discussing the original signers.
Various classroom lessons were to be held at Carver Heights Elementary School, including a flag coloring, writing a thank you letter to the original signers, and discussions on such topics as patriotism and good citizenship.
N.C. Representative Efton Sager, from District 11, was scheduled to speak with students at Eastern Wayne Elementary and Mount Olive Middle schools about how the government is run and about civic responsibility.
Music classes for younger grades at Eastern Wayne Elementary incorporated a message on the Constitution's Preamble by having students play handbells, while other classes were to have recitations and showings of videos on the subject.
Fremont STARS Elementary School held a schoolwide assembly featuring visiting author, Greg Zelnick, in conjunction with other classroom activities and production of a school video in which students shared what the day meant to them.
Kindergarten and multiage classes at Meadow Lane Elementary wrote their own classroom constitution, incorporating a list of class rules. First-graders also used the day as an opportunity to discuss the meaning of the Constitution and what "rights" they have.
Mount Olive Middle School held Student Government elections and an essay and poster contest.
Students at North Drive Elementary participated in a "Red, White and Blue" salute program featuring patriotic music, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and Preamble to the Constitution, and commemorated the day by signing a replica Constitution.
Literacy-themed activities dominated efforts at Northeast Elementary School, where teachers led in discussions of famous historical quotes, paraphrasing them for better understanding, and put on class skits.