Marble Falls Elementary students put civics lessons into action

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — The line outside the Marble Falls Elementary School computer lab stretches up and around the ramp leading down to the room. At a table, fifth-grade students Lance Long and Parker Hughes check each student’s identification against the third- and fourth-grade rosters.

Once the two verify the student’s enrollment and have him or her sign by the appropriate name, the student gets in line for his or her chance to vote.

“We do this so it’s as close to how actual voting is done,” said Diane Arredondo, the school’s gifted-and-talented specialist. “Each student who comes here to vote carries an ID with a photo on it and must present it just like if they were going to vote in a regular city or state election. We make it as authentic as we can.”

The voting May 16 was open to third- and fourth-graders who are casting their ballots for the 2014-2015 Marble Falls Elementary student council, including president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The students have been studying the democratic process leading up to the week of campaigning and voting.

Marble Falls Elementary School student council president Parker Hughes and vice president Lance Long hold up the registration documents used to check in third- and fourth-grade students as they vote for next year's student council officers. The students first check each student's photo identification against a role sheet to ensure they're eligible to vote and then have each student sign by his or her name acknowledging they are voting. The process is much like the one adults do when they vote in various elections.
Marble Falls Elementary School student council president Parker Hughes and vice president Lance Long hold up the registration documents used to check in third- and fourth-grade students as they vote for next year’s student council officers. The students first check each student’s photo identification against a role sheet to ensure they’re eligible to vote and then have each student sign by his or her name acknowledging they are voting. The process is much like the one adults do when they vote in various elections.

“We want our students to be happy and creative kids, but we also want them to grow into good citizens,” Principal Bruce Peckover said. “One of the biggest things for this is the third grade and extending into the fourth grade (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), they learn about the democratic process. But it’s one thing to study it. This allows them to put it in practice.”

Along with classroom studies on voting and the democratic process, area leaders stopped by and discussed the concepts with the students. Arredondo said State District Judge Allan Garrett talked about state-level elections, while Burnet County Attorney Eddie Arredondo shared his thoughts on county elections.

“Then (Marble Falls City Council member) John Packer came by and talked about local elections,” she added. And Mark McCrary, a member of the city of Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Commission, discussed the role of community commissions and involvement.

“We want them to become more aware of the democratic process and start thinking about it now, so when they are 18, they’ll want to be a part of it,” Peckover said.

Students interested in running for student council began campaigning May 12. This included putting up posters in a few designated places as well as getting the opportunity to greet students during morning assemblies. On May 16, each of the candidates got about a minute to share their platform with their fellow students before the third- and fourth-graders headed to the polls.

The voting was even done on a computer.

Hughes, the current student council president, said the students seemed to understand the process.

“I think everybody has learned a little bit more about voting,” he said.

Long, the current vice-president, added that though things have been a bit “crazier” than last year with checking IDs and verifying enrollment, it’s been more realistic.

“Yeah, this is more professional with the IDs and all,” he said. “It’s more like it’s really done.”

daniel@thepicayune.com