­Lordstown students hold mock election

Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland

Nick Allen, left, an eighth-grader, places his ballot in a box during a mock election in Lordstown schools Tuesday. Helping at the event are Lindsey Burns, 16, a junior, center, and Addison Wilson, 15, a sophomore.

Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland Nick Allen, left, an eighth-grader, places his ballot in a box during a mock election in Lordstown schools Tuesday. Helping at the event are Lindsey Burns, 16, a junior, center, and Addison Wilson, 15, a sophomore.

LORDSTOWN — From mock elections to writing projects and Electoral College math, many teachers around the country are embracing the often-nasty presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton as a real-world teaching tool.

The Lordstown School District is no exception. On Tuesday, more than 255 students in grades six through 12 participated in a mock election hosted by the Lordstown High School Political History Club.

This election no doubt has presented challenges for educators, with difficult topics such as sexual assault, infidelity and just the general bitterness and angry rhetoric.

“Teachers all over the country are having some very hard conversations with their students in a non-partisan way,” says National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

It’s also opened the door, though, to some good debates. “They’re having discussions about race. They’re having discussions about religious freedom,” she said. “They’re having discussions about should girls aspire to be president as likely as a boy would aspire to be president.”

In Lordstown, the club members and high school government students learned about the election process by each campaigning for a different presidential candidate — Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Republican nominee Donald Trump, Green Party nominee Jill Stein,  Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Independent candidate Richard Duncan.

Superintendent Terry Armstrong said the event took place as part of National Mock Election Day, which is usually five days before the general election. Students came to the high school auditorium hall, were asked to sign in with their signatures at a registration table, were given a ballot, went to one of two voting booths and then put their ballot in a box.

Lordstown juniors and seniors who attend Trumbull Career and Technical Center voted at their school, with Amstrong picking up their results.

Government teacher Courtney Gibson said in recent weeks, government students in her three classes were placed on campaigns for the different candidates.

Ashley Slabaugh, 17, a senior, worked on the Stein campaign with nine other students.

”I was the Stein campaign manager and we had to make posters and fliers  and give speeches and get the word out to the students about her campaign issues and views,” she said.

The students also wrote an article for their candidate for the school newspaper and spoke in front of the entire student body.

”It was a fun way to learn how the election process works,” Slabaugh said.

”The students did an amazing job with their campaigning. Their speeches in front of the entire student body were very good and the posters looked amazing,” Gibson said.

Gibson said some of her senior students are 18 and will be voting on Tuesday.

Eighth-grader Jenna Burnfield, 13, said voting was easy.

”We were given a piece of paper with five names on it and we had to choose one of them and shade in the bubble. It was exciting waiting to hear the results at the end of the day,” she said.

”This let us give our opinion for president,” said eighth-grader Brooklyn Croyle, 13.

”You get to vote for who you want,” said eighth-grader Kirsten Stelt, 13.

When the 257 votes were counted, Trump received 95, Clinton 90, Stein 46, Johnson 20 and Duncan six.

Gibson said she was told students in Bloomfield, Howland and Maplewood districts also were scheduled to be voting at their schools.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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