From the campaign trail to the classroom: Shelburne Community School brings 2020 election to students

Local News

One Vermont school is making sure its middle-school students are in the know, even if they can’t vote.     

Seventh and eighth graders from Shelburne Community School have spent the past five weeks learning about the presidential election. 

“Middle school is a time where they start to form habits and they start to make some decisions going forward,” said Stan Williams, Shelburne Community’s humanities teacher. “I think that if we can get them excited about the fact that they have a voice and a chance to start to find their voice that this may be some habits that carry forward.”    

Mr. Williams has been a high school teacher for 25 years. Today, and for the first time, he’s teaching middle schoolers.  

“How many of you have seen a ballot before,” Mr. Williams asked as he pointed to a sample ballot. 

“The last few weeks, we have used the election as the vehicle to do all of our work. It’s obviously an engaging current event in numerous ways and it’s a great way to practice a lot of the skills that we feel like we need to.”  

And, his students would agree.  

“I’m thinking in my head, next election I’m going to be able to vote so I got to be thinking about this all, because…who knows what’s going to happen,” said eighth grader Aydan Elkins.  

On Monday, students were able to read articles, watch videos, engage in interactive maps, and predict a winner based on electoral votes. 

“We’ve done some simulations where we’ve played with ‘if you were the Trump Campaign, if you were the Biden Campaign,’ which five states would you focus on, why, and how much money would you put in towards those,” said Mr. Williams.

On election night, students will be able to participate in a virtual watch party and see their predictions play out.  

“It looks like a lot of people are voting Biden from the polls that we’ve been seeing…I’m just hoping that we get someone that knows what he’s doing. If it’s trump again or it’s Biden. I just want someone that’s going to worry about the people and make sure they’re alright first,” said Elkins. 

Between the predictions and a virtual party, Shelburne Community teachers want to get the students involved in this year’s election.

“You know, it’s a big night in the country so I wanted to have a place for them to come and be together and they can ask questions and get updates and see how the night is progressing,” said Mr. Williams. 

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