The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 10th

‘Tis election season at Rashkis Elementary School

Keelin Caffrey and Soleil Garcia-Johnson work on Soleil's class-president campaign posters.
Buy Photos Keelin Caffrey and Soleil Garcia-Johnson work on Soleil's class-president campaign posters.

Fifth grade students at Rashkis Elementary School won’t be able to vote in the upcoming presidential election — but they can vote in their own.

As part of their persuasive writing unit, students in Michelle Whitfield’s fifth grade class are running their own election campaigns for class president.

Students have advertised their campaigns by making signs, PowerPoints and commercials. The campaigns launched Oct. 8, and the students will vote on Nov. 2.

Whitfield said the students came up with the idea themselves.

“This is the most engaged they have been all year,” she said.

Out of the 26 students in the class, 21 are running for president. But there is a catch.

“The students can’t vote for themselves,” Whitfield said. “For the students who aren’t running, they are lobbying for someone else. Everyone is getting involved.”

Whitfield said her students are also not allowed to vote for their friends. Each vote must be based on facts, she said.

Two students running, Diego Bennett and Theo Hyde, both said they were the best candidate for the job.

Bennett said he wants to know what it’s like to have presidential responsibilities.

Hyde said he was the best candidate because he will stand up to people.

Inspired by television ads for the current presidential election, Bennett and Hyde have even created their own ads attacking their opponents.

“Do you want a president engulfed in drama like Diego?” Hyde said.

“I’ve been here for six years, and he hasn’t. Why should he be president of this community?” Bennett said.

In another part of the unit, Whitfield had the students research Republican and Democratic political platforms.

Whitfield said a heated debate broke out between Dani Kaufman-Sedano, Matthew Kupec and Will Brady on the issue of financial aid.

Kupec and Brady said the poor shouldn’t be given money for college. Kaufman-Sedano argued back.

“It isn’t their fault. What if they are underpaid and need the extra help?” Kaufman-Sedano said. “And what if they can’t afford college? That’s not fair.”

Whitfield said she wants to continue these mock elections on a smaller scale for regular classroom positions such as transporter, interior designer and the “geek squad.”

Jeff Nash, spokesman for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said election season is a great time to teach children about the democratic process.

“It is important for them to know how it works and what it is so that when they turn 18 they will know what to do,” Nash said.

“An event like this is important when you live in a democratic nation,” he said. “You have to have an educated citizen for a democracy to work.”

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