Star shines in Meyer School election
Aadults weren't the only ones casting ballots last week. Meyer School student Emma Husnic casts her vote Monday for school mascot as students took part in a civics lesson aimed at teaching them about the importance of voting. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun
Updated: November 15, 2012 11:40AM
SKOKIE – Skokie’s first election results last week told us nothing about Obama vs. Romney or any of the races that determined who is heading to Washington, D.C., or Springfield.
Still, the election for Meyer School’s mascot — the star vs. the monkey — was of no less concern to these pre-kindergarten and kindergarten voters.
Skokie School District 73.5 Superintendent Kate Donegan explained how one student gave a fairly long explanation about his thinking prior to the vote.
Donegan’s son Julian, a Meyer first-grader, was squarely on the side of the star and told his mother, “It would be ridiculous to vote for the monkey.”
“We had a 20-minute conversation this morning about his vote — about why he was voting for the star and why he wasn’t voting for the monkey,” she said.
Julian’s reasoning was that if you were a star, you’d be a superstar, which is better than being a monkey.
“I said, ‘I can’t argue with you,’” Donegan said.
Julian’s selection reflected the overall results as the star became the school mascot in a 109-68 vote.
The star mascot captured nearly 62 percent of the overall school vote, which included faculty tallies as well.
Principal Alison Gordon stood outside the miniature voting booths Nov. 5 and congratulated the children — ages 3 to 6 — on casting what in many cases were their first votes.
“What a good citizen you are,” she said, handing the students a sticker proclaiming that they voted. “You cast your vote. Let’s hope your candidate wins.”
Gordon quietly admitted that she was backing one of the candidates, but she kept her choice to herself to reflect pure impartiality.
Other adults, including receptionist Connie Youngberg, seemed to favor the star mascot.
“For someone who does the bulletin board, it’s much easier to work with stars than monkeys,” she said.
Youngberg’s husband built the small voting booths located toward the front of the school, and then she decorated them, making miniature replicas of the next day’s real thing.
“We’re introducing them to the vocabulary that surrounds an election process,” Gordon said.
The project used words like candidate, voting, voting booth and citizen.
There was even a primary: those initially seeking the school mascot title — acorn, kangaroo, giraffe, owl, panda, goldfish, raccoon and frog — went by the wayside before the options were pared down to two.
“The kids are all excited about being able to vote like adults,” Gordon said. “We’ve wanted this to have some relationship to the real election.”
And for the most part it did — other than one glaring difference. Nearly 100 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the Meyer mascot election, not exactly a mirror of the Nov. 6 national election.
The students will learn about that difference one day, but the votes they cast Nov. 5 could very well make them voters for a lifetime to come.