Elementary students voice their vote

Published 2:39 pm Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Whether it be beans and candy or John McCain and Barack Obama, some school children shared their voice Tuesday with their own elections.

While their parents were at the polls Tuesday casting their vote for president, kindergartners and first graders in the Pearl River County School District chose their own favorite candidate.

Kindergartners had a different ballot than their parents. They got to choose between beans or candy, said kindergarten teacher Melissa Hoffman. Some children said they liked beans better because they are good for you, while others chose candy because it tastes good.

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To make the activity instructional, the children were told they didn’t know the type of bean or candy they were voting for, prompting them to conduct some research, Hoffman said. For more than 30 years Hoffman has been holding these elections for her students. At the end of each vote she notifies the students that they were voting for jelly beans and candied yams. After revealing the winner she then tells them that the children have to eat whichever food they voted for.

“In life you have to really think about what you want and research it,” Hoffman said.

Some students Hoffman had years ago still come to her to tell her that they learned a lot during those mock elections. She said she had one student tell her, “(Now) when I vote for president, I want to make sure if I’m really getting beans or candy,” Hoffman said.

At the end of the day, Hoffman put up the results for the students to see.

First graders in the school district also voted for their favorite candidate, except their choices resemble their parents’ choices. Parent volunteers Lauren Krieger, Tabatha Coleman and Shelly Dill helped to put on a presidential mock election with John McCain and Barack Obama as the candidates. About 12 classrooms with an average of 20 students in each class had an opportunity to vote for their favorite candidate.

“I think they were thrilled,” Coleman said.

Krieger said the children were asked to keep their votes to themselves, just like in a real election. After each student voted during the hour and a half activity, they were presented with a sticker showing their achievement.

The results showed the first graders chose McCain over Obama, with 178 to 54 votes.

The students will get another chance to vote on Friday, this time the focus will be on the story “The Three Little Pigs”, Coleman said. Children will vote whether the three little pigs or the big bad wolf had the better version of the facts.