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A political parade

November 04, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

For first-grade student Cierra Ferguson, the key to voting for the best candidate involves "picking a person who says kindly words."

A person like "the girl" who hopes to be Maryland's next governor, said Cierra, 7. She said Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's leadership reminds her of her favorite shirt, which says "Girls Rule."

Led by the North Hagerstown High School band, Cierra and other students at Winter Street Elementary School marched through the streets of Hagerstown on Friday to celebrate their patriotism and encourage people to vote in Tuesday's election.

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The nearly 300 youngsters wore handmade paper hats decorated with stars and stripes and carried flags and banners along a parade route that included Alexander Street, Franklin Street, Church Street and Winter Street in downtown Hagerstown.

Winter Street Elementary School teachers Cathy Thim and Pam Stevens organized the Kids Voting Parade to culminate months of in-school study about the importance of voting, Thim said. Depending upon their grade level, students learned about making choices and the roles of government leaders from the local level to the national level, she said.

The course of study ties into Kids Voting USA, a nonprofit organization that works with schools and communities to enhance civics education and encourage children and youths to vote with their parents on Election Day, according to the organization's Web site.

"Election Day's coming up and we're going to get to vote," said first-grader Ken Davien Weedon, 6. "It's about making a choice."

Ken Davien has a few more years before his ballot will be legal, but he's been exercising his voting muscles in Thim's classroom. His choice in the Maryland gubernatorial election?

"What's that man's name," Ken Davien asked Thim.

"Bob Ehrlich," she said.

"Yeah, I like him."

Kennedy Townsend ranks third on third-grader Trent Burnett's list of best-known politicians.

"I know Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and that girl, the one who's running for governor," said Trent, 8. "I think she knows what she's doing because she was second to this governor (Glendening)."

He's not up for re-election Tuesday, but President Bush is third-grader Andrew Peterson's favorite politician, Andrew said.

"He's trying to fight against Afghanistan because of the terrorists who ruined our twin towers, and he tried to get that sniper off our streets," said Andrew, 8.

The youngster, who said he follows the news every day, encouraged everyone to vote Tuesday.

"Voting is so everybody has a choice. And even if they don't choose to vote, they still have the opportunity to vote," Andrew said.

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