TEWKSBURY — Students at the North Street Elementary School had the opportunity to participate in an exercise in democracy this week. According to principal Karen Cronin, the students have been learning about the process of voting and elections, and would be casting their ballots for their favorite snack food: it’s chips versus cookies, folks!
Educating students about the importance of voting, and dovetailing on initiatives to re-introduce civics into the curriculum in Massachusetts, the school has been helping students learn about different topics in democracy, how the government works, the right to vote, and the importance of participating in one’s community.
Cronin has created a robust experience for the students by developing a series of video read-alouds of books for children specifically focused on the history of voting and how the representative form of government works. Topics include women suffragettes, the history of African-American voting rights, who do we vote for and who can run for election and the voting process.
At the North Street School, students “registered” to vote using a Google form to give their name, teacher name and name of the school. Cronin wanted the exercise to mirror the real experience as much as possible. The school had absentee voting for Remote Learning Academy students, and in-person voting for Cohorts A and B on the days they were in school.
The school cafeteria acted as the voting precinct. Students could choose one snack on the ballot, chips or cookies. There were no write-ins this year, though “some teachers did lobby to have a write in option for fruit,” Cronin said.
Cronin was delighted with the enthusiasm of the staff.
Cronin emphasized to students the importance of the personal nature of the vote, and explained that they could keep their vote private if they chose. The in-person voting at the school was carried out in a socially distanced manner, and students showed their registration card at check in and check out stations.
Cronin said there would be no voter fraud and students voting in person would use a pen to mark their ballots. Election results were tabulated and announced to the students on Wednesday. Cookies won by a landslide.