Grace Prep students engage in election

In four years, Jonathan Coll’s vote could help decide whether the president elected Tuesday gets a second term.

And when that times comes, the Grace Prep freshman said he’ll already have the knowledge he needs about the election process

“I hear a lot of ‘seems like’ — like people saying ‘it seems like this person will be a good president’ or ‘it seems like this person could do more for our country,’ ” he said. “I just don’t think ‘seems like’ is a good enough reason to vote for someone.”

On Tuesday night, Grace Prep extended school until 11 p.m.

It was a mandatory attendance for the student body to attend the school’s Election Night Extravaganza.

Social studies teacher Dave Anderson said he held a series of sessions on swing states, the Electoral College and a question-and-answer session with students and teachers about the election process.

Students also had the opportunity to watch election coverage on TV.

“It’s a huge educational experience,” Anderson said. “We talk about the process and the importance of it, but also do it in a way that makes it fun so they have a positive outlook on something that can be a little boring or sometimes a little negative.”

Students were also asked to participate in a group project in which they predicted election outcomes in swing states.

Anderson said making the night fun could encourage more students to vote when they’re old enough.

“Voting is a part of being a good citizen,” Anderson said. “We’re about loving God and serving your country faithfully, and making a topic like this fun only helps remind them that it’s not a bad process.”

Grace Prep senior Sonja Loper, 17, said one of the most important things she takes away from lessons about the election is going into the voting process as an informed voter.

“There’s no right or wrong candidate, but people should vote based on who they think is the right person for what they believe in,” she said.

Classmate Jin Ho Park, 17, isn’t an American citizen, but he said looking in from a third-person point of view has been enlightening.

“If I decide to stay in this country, I’ll become a citizen and will probably vote,” he said. “I haven’t decided yet where I’m going or what I’m doing, but I think it’s cool that there is an election every four years and that people have a say. It’s just important they do their research ahead of time, and not worry about the personal and sensitive stuff.”

In exchange for a long day Tuesday, Grace Prep students don’t have school Wednesday.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo