Students gather in the small gym to listen to local politicians. (Photo Credit: Wren Brastow)
Last week, Black Hills High School students voted for their local candidates after watching a candidate forum put on by the High School’s social studies department. Students dressed up and sported a spectrum of campaign gear to show spirit. After weeks of planning, students had an opportunity to participate in a mock election to determine which candidates were qualified for local, state, and national office.
Social studies teachers Kevin Wimsett, Jennie Kelly, and George Rother collaborated with their civics classes to put the event into action; both working overtime to ensure the turnout was perfect. All of the hard work paid off when the doors opened and students flooded in.
When asked about the importance of voter awareness, Mr. Wimsett urged students to “pay attention because many of the decisions that are going to be made will impact their lives.” He went on to note that elections “all the way down to the local level” make a difference, if not more so in students daily lives.
Fortunately, the Black Hills High School candidate forum brought in numerous candidates and representatives from all levels of government to speak about their qualification for office. Students were split into three broad groups and dispersed among the PAC, small gym, and large gym. Each location served as a presentation area for national, state, and local offices respectively. On each site, a different student panel asked questions of the candidates running for office. At the end of the day, each student received a non-official Washington ballot plastered with real decisions and initiatives that will soon go to Washington voters.
From a student’s point of view, Ryan Peters thought the event brought about a “great opportunity to learn about politics on a local level.” He also mentioned that “students wouldn’t usually get this kind of opportunity.”
Among the candidates, many issues hit home for students. During the two local candidate forums, students became engaged when they heard about problems that affected their local community or school. The purpose of educating young voters prevailed when every student took to filling out their ballots with a passion, and in a few cases taking a few minutes after the bell to finish.
Donald Trump – President
Chris Vance – Washington Senator
Jay Inslee – Governor
Cyrus Habib – Lieutenant Governor
Kim Wyman – Secretary of State
By Max Parker, Editor