EHT high school students take mock election seriously

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Parth Parikh, 17, Melanie Rynshall, 17, and Mark Demaria, 18, worked on writing the computer program that records and tallies the student votes. The program also enables the student pollsters to calculate demographics on their voters and obtain other interesting data. Parth Parikh, 17, Melanie Rynshall, 17, and Mark Demaria, 18, worked on writing the computer program that records and tallies the student votes. The program also enables the student pollsters to calculate demographics on their voters and obtain other interesting data.

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EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Involving the entire student body and touching on all of the content areas, the Egg Harbor Township High School participated in this year’s election in a fun and meaningful way, culminating in a mock election held Tuesday, Nov. 6.

“After learning about the issues, now I am really interested in the election,” said Devon Greenwood, 17. “I watched all of the debates this year.”

Melanie Scarella, 17, said she can now contribute to discussions on politics and policy because they spent time studying and debating the matters in class.

“Now we know what we are talking about and can join in discussions with our parents when they talk about it,” Scarella said, who noted that she her classmates have engaged in classroom debates with one another over their candidates. 

Tuesday’s mock election was just one of the events the school implemented as part of its iSTEM philosophy. STEM is an acronym developed by the National Science Foundation representing four distinct fields of study – science, technology, engineering, and math. iSTEM eliminates the isolation between these distinct fields of study and integrates them for higher level learning, according to a news release by Principal Terry Charlton.

At a recent in-service, administrators from the Egg Harbor Township School District learned about the benefits of iSTEM and how it could be incorporated into the school’s curriculum. This information became the focal point for the sophomore cohort team.

Comprised of social studies and English teachers, this cohort decided to create the mock election where students would be active participants, he said. When the idea for a school-wide election was born, it incorporated nearly all subjects taught within the school.

Independent study students in the technology department created a computer program that the students, faculty and staff use to vote on Election Day. Spending nearly two months, these students wrote hundreds of lines of code to create an accurate system for tallying votes in real time.

Students in the graphic arts classes created an original design and screen printed T-shirts for the mock election. The school’s media department videotaped students, edited hours of footage on the candidates and created commercials highlighting the importance of voting in the mock election.

In addition, students in the math department will use the data in their statistics classes to calculate percentages for the candidates and voting groups.

The English department used the mock election to work with students on their persuasive writing techniques. Students could choose a variety of media to demonstrate this process and created a “Get Out and Vote” campaign that was aired on the high school’s news station.

According to social studies teacher Doug Winkler, one of the election coordinators, the event enabled all of the students to be involved and gave them a better grasp of evolving issues like voter identification legislation.

“We had all of the students show identification when they check in and recorded who did not have their IDs,” Winkler said. “They were still allowed to vote, but we will tally the number of students who would have been disenfranchised by the voter ID laws like the one proposed in Pennsylvania. We are trying to make the election as real-life as possible.”

Talieaha Hinton, 16, waits for her vote to be send during the Egg Harbor Township mock election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Talieaha Hinton, 16, waits for her vote to be send during the Egg Harbor Township mock election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Pictured from left are Mohammed Hossain, 17, Mike Lupu, 16, and Nigel Toussaint, 17, as they staff the high school’s mock election polls. Pictured from left are Mohammed Hossain, 17, Mike Lupu, 16, and Nigel Toussaint, 17, as they staff the high school’s mock election polls.

Derek Torres, 16, contemplates his vote during the Egg Harbor Township mock election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Derek Torres, 16, contemplates his vote during the Egg Harbor Township mock election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Pictured from left are mock election staffers and seniors Mike Grabert, Melanie Scarella, Devon Greenwood and Dominique Farino, all 17. Pictured from left are mock election staffers and seniors Mike Grabert, Melanie Scarella, Devon Greenwood and Dominique Farino, all 17.

Sophia Forbes, 16, casts her vote during the Egg Harbor Township mock election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Sophia Forbes, 16, casts her vote during the Egg Harbor Township mock election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.


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