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Students get their chance to vote

November 1, 2010

LAKEVILLE — Cell phone use in class is typically a no-no, but the rule is being temporarily relaxed at LaVille Jr./Sr. High School.
At the beginning of the school year, Union-North Technology Director Mike Sumpter set up a teachers’ poll in which votes were cast via cell phone through www.polleverywhere.com. To get LaVille students involved in the election process, the same setup is being used so they can vote on the Joe Donnelly/Jackie Walorski Congressional and Dan Coats/Brad Ellsworth Senate races. The results will show who would win if the student body was the total electorate.
“Anybody in the grades seven through 12 with a cell phone gets to vote during their homeroom period,” 12th grade government teacher Lee Dennie said.
Dennie said his students have a definite interest in statewide and national politics, one that mirrors the rest of the country.
“Like with the general population, they don’t quite have as high of an interest in a non-Presidential election year, but they are very aware of what’s going on,” Dennie said.
The cell phone poll serves two purposes — to show what technology can do, but also to teach the importance of voting when students turn 18.
“I always tell my kids that voting is the responsibility of every American,” Dennie said. “It’s easy to go in and vote straight-ticket, but it’s harder to find out how the candidates stand on the issues and what their position is compared to the candidates running.”
Students examine liberal and conservative similarities and differences, and in-class dialogue can be lively.
“A lot of the kids have the same opinions as their parents,” Dennie said. “We get into some pretty heated discussions, because they like to voice their opinions. We’ll talk about controversial issues like gays in the military or abortion issues, and we have some real good discussions.”
Dennie does his best to stay neutral.
“I try to present both sides, but everyone’s opinions are bound to come out sometime,” Dennie said.
The cell phone poll program is part of an ever-growing technology-based environment at the school.
“We do everything online now,” Dennie said. “We do grades and attendance online, and we don’t even send report cards home anymore. It’s all online. It’s amazing the changes technology has brought around.”

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