Springfield, MA – They are not of age to vote in Election 2016, but many Springfield Public Schools (SPS) students had an opportunity to voice their choice during a mock election campaign, that includes real ballot boxes, a mayoral proclamation and a televised broadcast of their voting results.
More than 20,000 students are expected to participate in “SPS Voice My Choice 2016” mock elections this week. Voting ballots for 25 elementary schools will include only the presidential candidates. Eleven middle and seven high school ballots will include not only the presidential race but also the race for a Hampden County Sheriff and Questions 2 and 3 (the expansion of charter schools and the restriction of food sales from farms where animals are confined to overly restrictive cages, respectively).
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno joined Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick today at 10:30 a.m. at Zanetti School for a news conference and ceremony proclaiming the day as Kids Voting Day in the City of Springfield. Warwick said the district has worked closely with the City of Springfield Elections Office to ensure that students experience a mock election that is as authentic as possible.
Mayor Domenic Sarno called the effort a “great initiative” and thanked Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola for her work. “I remember, as a young City Councilor, when this was done ‘with photo shots, too,’” the Mayor recalled. “It really helps to incorporate both our children and parents to get involved and respect the importance of voting.”
Oyola said her department secured a grant that allowed them to purchase mock ballots, large cardboard ballot boxes, “I voted” stickers, and other paraphernalia to help heighten students’ experience.
SPS Social Studies Director Susan Majka said schools have been educating students about American democracy, the 2016 election and other relevant matters for several weeks. In many ways, the act of casting a mock ballot is a culminating civic lessons event, she said.
“It allows the students to experience the total breadth of civic engagement and also plants the seed that we hope will make them appreciate and honor their right to vote as adults. It’s an exciting, educational, relevant experience,” said Majka, adding that each participating school will hold its mock election in their own way.
The results of “SPS Voice My Choice 2016” mock elections will be revealed during a broadcast by Focus Springfield on Thursday, October 13th at 10 a.m. Viewers can tune in to Focus Springfield Channel 15 (Comcast) or website visitors can log on to www.focusspringfield.com/SPSelection2016 to watch the results announcement.