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Clear Spring Elementary students learn about election

Children treated to visits from 'candidates' and 'former presidents'

Children treated to visits from 'candidates' and 'former presidents'

October 24, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

CLEAR SPRING -- Uncle Sam quizzed Clear Spring Elementary School students Thursday afternoon during a rally held to educate the students before a miniature election at the school Friday morning.

But when Uncle Sam - also known as fourth-grade teacher Craig Koons - asked why some of the teachers couldn't yet run for president, one little boy got the answer very, very wrong.

"I think it's because most of them are girls," he said.

Of course, the correct answer was because some of the teachers are not yet 35, the age for presidential candidates mandated by the United States Constitution.

"President George Washington" with his fluffy white hair and "President Abraham Lincoln" in his tall black hat made celebrity appearances Thursday.

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"Washington," also known as enrichment teacher W.T. Fleming, went through the crowd shaking hands. As he made his way to the center of the school's gymnasium, students were crowded around the "former president," with their arms outstretched.

"Lincoln," or fifth-grade teacher Corey Alkire, was more reserved. He walked through the crowd telling students they should stay seated and have "proper behavior when the former President is present."

The students didn't just know their history, some seemed to understand a bit about current events, too. They understand that voters are concerned about money this year.

Doug Sease, 9, held a pro-Obama sign during the rally. Doug heard that Barack Obama wants to "cut down taxes," he said. Doug likes that because "our parents wouldn't be getting down to the bone in money," he said.

Sease's friend, Tyler Poffenberger, is voting for the competition.

"My parents wanted to vote for (John) McCain," Tyler said.

"I don't want them to be sad because I voted for someone they don't want me to," he said.

When asked about which issues McCain thinks are important, Tyler said, "it's because he wants to help people with their money."

Music teacher Chris Mellott organized the rally, and helped the students prepare the patriotic songs presented Thursday.

The school is holding its miniature election this year because the campaigns are "such a big deal in the world right now," she said.

"Even our kindergartners know who's running," she said.

Older students are watching the news and talking about it, Mellott said.

If the students' reaction is any indication, Clear Spring is McCain territory.

The crowd was polite while "Barack Obama," aka fifth-grade teacher Doug McBurney, made his entrance and a brief speech, but the "candidate" got some thumbs down signs. Some students started chanting "vote McCain" after "Obama's" speech.

Third-grade teacher Andrew Ernst was warmly received as John McCain, making a brief speech in which he reminded the students he'd served the country as a senator and in the military.

"We want these guys to know to vote. That's the most important thing," Ernst said after the rally. "I just want the kids to know it's one of our American responsibilities."

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