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GATE Students Busy Learning About Elections
Fair Oaks sixth grader Colby Ng reviews his choices before making his selection for President during the schools recent mock election held by GATE students. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

Learning about the election process and holding mock Presidential elections at each elementary school site has been the course of study for the school district’s GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) students.

“They have learned about the Constitutional responsibilities and qualifications of a president as well as some biographical information on various influential U.S. presidents,” said district GATE teacher Brenda Combs.

She added that by studying the political parties, platforms, and comparing major issues involved in U.S. Presidential campaigns, the students develop their mathematical, analytical, and evaluation skills.

The students in the GATE program have also been conducting their own Presidential elections.

“We are trying to simulate real voting, which has an age requirement, and people have to register,” Combs said. “GATE students have to register along with everyone else and will supervise the booths and conduct the exit polls.”

The GATE students “registered” their peers as voters, but only the fourth through sixth graders to help students understand about the required voting age.

“If they registered a few weeks ago, then they get to be able to vote,” stated GATE student Jean Pagaduan, “but if they didn’t, they can’t vote.”

Each school site’s GATE students hosted a “voting booth” area at morning recess and lunchtime. At Fair Oaks, Pagaduan’s GATE classmates Lijian Bacud and Juliette Leibenson checked the registry and distributed the ballots. The registered student voters chose from the six candidates for the U.S. presidency and turned in their ballots. Pagaduan also had the task of conducting “exit polls.” Leibenson reported that exit polls help predict who’s going to win the election.

Pagaduan explained that in the elections unit they’ve learned about the laws regarding who can run for President, and they had to watch one of the presidential debates and write down what the candidates said about certain issues. The students also have the option of pretending to be President and give a speech, or do a bio of the President, or write a letter to the candidate they’d like to win.

Bacud said that in order to vote, a person has to be 18 years or older and be an American citizen. Morgan Bright added that to be President, the candidate has to be at least 35 years old. She also said that to vote, a person cannot have been convicted of a felony. She said that she learned that in debates, the candidates talk about their opinions on the issues.

Combs reported that each site will also host a “Lunch with the Presidents” where students will perform as past Presidents or their first ladies.