Worthington Middle School students go for Obama
WORTHINGTON -- At Worthington Middle School (WMS) on Tuesday, a trip to the "election booth" followed lunch for 557 of the school's 773 students -- making for an impressive 72 percent voter turnout.
"A very high percentage of our students participated," confirmed Lonnie Myrom, an eighth-grade WMS social studies teacher who helped coordinate the mock election. "This was a valuable educational opportunity for our kids, and as a social studies teacher, I'm always proud that Minnesota ranks No. 1 in voter turnout.
"It's still not enough -- it should be 100 percent -- but this is a good starting point for our students."
Myrom and his fellow teachers took care to follow a format that was nearly identical to what eligible adult voters experienced.
"The kids were really interested and took the process very seriously," Myrom said. "We had them sign their names on a list, though we didn't have an ID requirement, and we had a voting booth set up."
In the preceding weeks, volunteers from among the WMS eighth-grade class researched the various candidates, uncovering information about their backgrounds and their positions on topics such as the economy, immigration and foreign policy.
"It was more difficult to find those details for some candidates than others, so in some cases the students turned to recent Daily Globe articles to find out more," Myrom said. "Then, the students recorded video announcements seen by the entire school, and the seventh-graders made posters.
"It was a collaborative effort to have the different classes be involved."
One advantage of this contained, smaller electorate was the speed with which results were tabulated and released.
By the end of the day, the WMS student body knew the outcome of their choices.
"There was a fairly overwhelming victory for President Obama, and Senator Amy Klobuchar won pretty handily, too, as did Representative Tim Walz," Myrom said.
"Locally, the kids picked Alan Oberloh and Rod Hamilton for the state senator and state representative seats; I'm guessing higher name recognition made a difference for those two candidates," Myrom speculated.
On the state's two Constitutional amendment proposals, the "yeses" prevailed, although Myrom said the margins were much closer on those questions.
Whether the WMS election outcome ultimately mirrors that of the actual races is yet to be seen, but either way, the students have gained much educationally from this exposure to the U.S. electoral process and may have inspired some of their teachers to make a trip to the polls.
Observed WMS Principal Jeff Luke, "The kids were very excited and asked all the adults in the building if they had done their real voting yet.
"It was great to hear all of the conversations and mini-debates going on all day."