By Liv Larsen
Lansing Township News
Lansing Township- A sense of patriotism is evident from the first step into the office of Deputy Principal Tracy Thomas, where a scale model of the Twin Towers rests front and center on his desk. But the patriotism at Waverly High School is more than symbolic; this school wholly involves its students in an important American right: voting.
At the end of each school year, Waverly High School gathers a list of all the students who will be eligible to vote in the next election, and gives them the opportunity of registering to vote so they’ll be ready to fulfill their role of citizenship.
“We partner with other people to give our kids more opportunities…to get registered to vote,” said Thomas. “Last year May, it was the League of Women Voters in the Lansing area.”
The chosen organization visits the school to help students register while providing nonpartisan voting information.
“We set up a date where they come in and set up a presentation” and they also explain to the students “kinds of questions that voters need to know about…and they register them too,” said Thomas.
The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to the percentage of students who took advantage of the registration opportunity.
“We had over…100 kids that qualified and about 95 attended,” said Thomas.
Waverly High School also promotes voter education. The high school has previously held an actual court hearing in its auditorium and allowed some of its government classes to go and watch.
The high school will also host a town meeting Thursday, October 23 in its cafeteria with two State Representative candidates from the Nov. 4 ballot: Theresa Abed and Tom Barrett. The students are the ones who will prepare and ask the questions.
“[This] allows the students to see the process and see what the candidates’ views are and decide where they stand,” Thomas said. “We’ve got them registered, now we have them checking out actual candidates.” This allows the students to “form their own opinions.”
Thomas isn’t the only area official interested in engaging young voters. Michigan state Rep. Andy Schor, up for re-election this year, also courts high schoolers.
Schor knows exactly the angle he needs to take when targeting his younger audiences. He tries to treat them like actual adults and provide incentive for post-college job assurance.
“When I talk to a younger audience I use the same message as the older audience,” said Schor, who wants his young audience to “go to college ensuring what they want would boost Michigan’s future…we need the same amenities that bring people to Chicago? …we need to keep them here.”