Published November 2, 2010
Ambassadors Preparatory Academy is participating in Project V.O.T.E., or Voters of Tomorrow through Education, a mock election sponsored by the office of the Texas Secretary of State Office, to allow students to voice their support for one of the gubernatorial candidates.
The importance of the coming elections was brought home by the recent on-campus elections for student council.
The morning focus period was regaled by the spectacle of lively electoral speeches by the students in which the student candidates, dressed to the nines, addressed the student body. Student candidates even solicited classmates to form an entourage to garner votes for certain student council positions among an atmosphere of political signs and posters and, sometimes, a culinary incentive for prospective voters in the form of cookies or other treats.
As those elections ended, the students were asked to continue their democratic zeal by turning to a study of the leading candidates for the governorship of Texas.
Beginning with the major candidates, Bill White and Rick Perry, but still including those lesser known like Deb Shafto for the Green Party and Kathie Glass for the Libertarians, the students have developed a portfolio of the candidates’ stands on the major issues, including education, the economy, health care and border security.
Periodically, both teachers and students present points of view and show political advertisements for all candidates.
The coming elections are particularly important for Ambassadors Preparatory Academy because the students who want to present an example of why participation matters to area voters.
Social studies is a subject that helps students understand the development and importance of democracy in contemporary times. One example at Ambassadors Preparatory Academy was a discussion of the totalitarianism of the North Korean regime. That lesson gained a new reality for the students when Ovidiu Manolache, the Romanian doctoral student who serves as music teacher for the school, was able to relate his own experience as a child growing up in a communist system.
Experiential learning has been shown repeatedly to be the most effective form of teaching for information retention. The students at Ambassadors Preparatory Academy must bring their own voter registration card to be able to vote. This small detail reinforces the difficulties many of our ancestors had just trying to become registered voters.
Being a responsible voter also brings home the fact that, in today’s world, it is important to become a good citizen. As it states in the “Character Counts” pledge recited by the students each day: “I will always act with fairness. I will show that I care. I will be a good citizen and always do my share.”
Part of good citizenship is to be an informed person who voices an opinion by practicing that most fundamental civil right — the right to vote. Ambassadors Preparatory Academy students will reinforce that basic truth and retain that critical information through the experience of the current mock election. It is the students’ sincere hope they can provide the example of active participation needed by all adult citizens today.
Paul Richards is a social studies and math teacher at Ambassadors Preparatory Academy.