2008-11-26 / News

National election part of fourth grade curriculum

By Eileen M. Daly

In their principals' report, Jamestown principals Kathleen Almanzor and Carole Melucci told the school committee last Thursday evening that a schoolwide mock election was held. The mock election was a fourth grade initiative and fourth grade teacher, Charlene Tuttle, attended the meeting. She spoke at length about the election. "We've been using a Scholastic Book that provides a history of the election process and explains how the Electoral College works," Tuttle said.

The focus, according to Tuttle, was to engage the children in the election process and to help them begin to make informed decisions. The children themselves decided to make it a school-wide process, Tuttle said. "They came up with the idea. They also decided that they wanted to use the concept of the Electoral College so each classroom teacher was given an electoral vote," Tuttle said.

The fourth grade students created posters and other written materials to share information, and to motivate and excite everyone to participate. "We also went online and looked at the projected vote for each state and then used maps to color in the states," Tuttle said. The students took the mock election quite seriously. "They even assigned a guard for the election box," Tuttle said.

School Committee chairperson Cathy Kaiser couldn't resist asking, "So who won?"

"Obama," Tuttle replied.

On the night of the actual election, Tuttle said the students were very engaged, with most of the students watching at least part of the election and many filling in the states as the results came in. "I've received a lot of e-mails from parents saying that their children were really interested in the election and were really well informed," Tuttle said.

After the election, the children were able to watch both candidates' post-election speeches online. "We also looked at different sites and tried to notice any difference in reporting," Tuttle said.

Everyone agreed that the mock election was a big success, but none more than the children themselves. Tuttle shared some of their written responses to the process:

"Waiting for the states to count their votes was very suspenseful."

"The election in school is similar to the real election because Obama won both and McCain did not. It was really fun and exciting."

"I think they did great speeches because Obama didn't brag about his win and McCain was kind about Obama's win."

"Now so many things can be changed like the war might end and much more other things because Bush never did and Obama said he would in his speeches."

In other news from the principals:

The PTO sponsored a Nov. 14 presentation by Chris Poulos, a BMX bike champion, about "making good choices." The PTO also sponsored two Shakesperience Production workshops for Lawn Avenue students.

The principals also reported that they have recently learned that Jamestown fourth and eighth grade students will take the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests in February.

The principals shared that the state Department of Education is requiring that all sixth grade students have an individual learning plan specifying academic and career goals. They will be working with North Kingstown to coordinate the format of these individual learning plans.

In other business, the School Committee heard information from Sodexho, the schools' food service provider, who gave the committee an update on the Nutrikids point of sale system, which is now operational. Sodexho also reported on the results of their informal survey of students' satisfaction with school lunch choices and the planned changes as a result of these surveys.

Principal Almanzor reported that the expansion of recycling efforts at the two schools has resulted in a 10 to 15 percent increase in volume.

The committee discussed the need to have an alternate representative present at North Kingstown School Committee meetings when the current liaison, William "Bucky" Brennan, is unable to attend due to his work schedule. Kaiser will write to the North Kingstown School Committee to request permission to appoint an alternate as the North Kingstown policy specifies the appointment of "one" representative.

The committee unanimously voted to approve the Bullying Policy following the second reading.

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