By Sarah Vega for The Island Eye News
Students from University School of the Lowcountry researched Isle of Palms mayoral and town council candidates, as well as the $5.5 million marina referendum, as part of their annual exploration of elections and the democratic process. However, at USL, the research only provided the knowledge base for the hands-on learning to begin. Third through 12th graders from USL spent Nov. 7 polling voters at more than two-dozen sites around Charleston and Berkeley Counties, including the Isle of Palms Recreation Center and Isle of Palms City Hall. “Exit polling is an annual tradition at USL,” says head of school, Jason Kreutner.
“We want our students to be engaged, informed citizens, and getting to know candidates and the issues influencing their campaigns prepares them for engaging with voters and collecting their feedback,” he says. Aside from helping students better understand civics and the ebb and flow of turnout rates for different types of elections, the students also learn valuable lessons about mathematics and statistics. After collecting the data, they returned to the school to compile data and make predictions about the election results. The students have a strong track record of correctly predicting the outcomes of everything from referendums to Presidential elections.
Though the primary focus on elections is in the Fall, students can often link the knowledge they gain to other experiences throughout the year. For example, the middle school students took a trip to Alabama in January where they reflected on the importance of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Experiences such as walking in the footsteps of activists while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge and touring the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute brought to life how meaningful the right to vote is. Waverly Lansford, a 3rd grader at USL, participated in the exit polling experience for the first time. With a smile on her face and a clipboard in her hands, she was keen on collecting as many responses as she could. “I read a lot of articles about the candidates, and it helped me form my own personal opinions,” she said. “Today, I’m finding that being cheerful is encouraging people to talk to me and fill out our poll so that I can learn about their opinions, too.”
USL is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt independent school serving students from third through 12th grade. USL is is celebrating its 11th year of serving children and families throughout the greater Charleston area. For more information please visit www.uslowcountry.org or call 843.884.0902.