JFK Students Vote in Election Day Assembly

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Students at John F. Kennedy Intermediate recently learned about politics and participatory democracy firsthand, voting in student council elections for their new president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students were given an opportunity to run in a primary round by attaining 50 signatures from their peers and two teacher recommendations. Fourth-graders at JFK are allowed to run for treasurer and secretary while fifth-graders are permitted to run for all four offices. After this initial part of the process, students who completed all of their paperwork on time – approximately 100 running for each office – were entered on a ballot sheet. All fourth- and fifth-grade classes then voted for one student from the ballot for each office to narrow down the choices. After those votes were tabulated, the top five students – those with the highest number of votes – for each office went on to the schoolwide election.

In the weeks leading up to the election, the 20 candidates prepared speeches and campaigned with catchy slogans and large posters placed around the building. “It really is a true replica of what a real election is like,” said teacher Alexis Ghiraldi, “and it also gives the students a chance to familiarize themselves with their peers and get to know them.”

On Election Day, the students running for office attended a special schoolwide assembly in the gymnasium, orchestrated by teachers Ghiraldi and Kristen Lombardo. As the student voters gathered to cheer and hold up handmade signs extolling their favorites, each candidate gave a speech on why he or she would be a good fit for the job.

“The speeches this year were stellar,” said Ghiraldi. “The students were confident, articulate and eager to win their peers over with their visions for the school year.”

After the assembly, all of the school’s students – including third-, fourth- and fifth-graders – visited a voting site in JFK’s computer lab where they electronically cast their votes using Google Docs. “It was a true voting experience that the entire student body took part in and enjoyed,” explained Ghiraldi. “Using this technologically advanced way to vote, in lieu of the traditional paper ballots, gave the voting process the lift it needed to become an even more enticing and captivating experience for our kids.”

After the final class members had cast their ballots, Google Docs was used to tabulate each vote. Alexa Belotti was elected as president, her identical twin sister Daniella Belotti was chosen as vice president, Megan Oswald was selected as secretary and James Hope was elected to the post of treasurer.

“We are very excited to have these students as our new officers and know that they will do great things this year for JFK and its community,” said Ghiraldi.