By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
MOOREVILLE – Mooreville Elementary School fourth-grader Brice Deaton was surprised that his first voting experience did not more closely resemble a short-answer school test.
“The paper (ballot) was different than I thought it would be,” Brice, 9, said after he and his classmates participated in a mock presidential election on Monday. “I thought you would put a check by the person that you chose and then have to write what you like about that person.”
More than 100 fourth-graders at the school participated in the exercise, which culminated a five- to six-week unit about government and elections. The five fourth-grade classes learned about branches of government, political parties and the voting process.
They researched the Republican and Democratic parties and the ideals of each.
“This is the first time they’ve studied anything about politics,” said teacher Erin Watson.
They also heard from several guest speakers. State legislators Nancy Collins and Steve Holland and youth court judge Lori Basham spoke previously, while Jeremy Martin and U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee spoke on Monday. Martin is North Mississippi service coordinator in the Secretary of State’s office, which has a Promote the Vote program which Mooreville used.
“I hope some of the students will grow up and work in government and be excited,” said teacher Marsha Gray.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney easily carried the day on Monday, receiving 96 of the 107 student votes cast.
Student Ben Wilemon, 9, said he initially had a hard time deciding which candidate to choose but that watching the vice-presidential debate helped him make up his mind.
Classmate Lori Winter, 9, said she realized she was Republican after a class discussion.
“Democrat means you have to give your money to someone else,” she said. “If you are Republican, you can give it on your own and not give so much. I think you should keep what you earn and not give it to someone else.”
Martin, who graduated from Mooreville High School in 1997, said he believed it was important for students to learn about government at a young age.
“We did a presidential scrapbook when I was in fourth-grade at Mooreville, and that inspired me to do what I do now,” he said.