GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 3, 2012

Obama carries Manchester's kid vote

MANCHESTER — What would happen if kids could vote?

Students of all ages a Manchester’s Memorial Elementary School had their voting voice heard as classes filed into the library to fill out and drop their ballots into a box for the school’s mock election. And President Barack Obama, garnering 278 votes, pulled it out ahead of Republican Mitt Romney, who captured 185 votes in the students’ race, school librarian Samantha Silag said.

But, Silag said, the election was less about choosing a winner than about teaching the kids about the civic duty of voting, and it was a lesson many of the students took seriously and learned well.

“It’s been a great opportunity for us to think about the core values, like respect and responsibility,” Silag said. “Just so they understand voting is really a privilege and a time to show they are respectful people.”

The older children at school got a taste of politics and national issues, too.

As fifth-grade teacher Joe McDonough lined his class up at the library door — labeled “polling place” — McDonough explained that, on each day leading up to the election, his class had learned about an issue, then — not knowing which candidate coincided with which side of the issue — chose a side. Afterwards, McDonough revealed the candidate that supported each side.

“Then they had to decide which issues are most important to them and which candidate matches those most frequently,” McDonough said.

His fifth graders climbed step stools up to the town’s official booths, coloring in the circle next to the photo and name of their carefully chosen candidate.

Fifth grader Lars Arntsen settled into a library bean bag chair with a new book after voting. Lars said that, after weighing each candidate’s values, he chose the one whose ideals best match his own.

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