Elementary Students Encourage USD Community to Pledge to Vote

Monday, October 24, 2016post has photos

Frank Garcia, left, is asked by a High Tech Elementary School student if he's registered to vote in the upcoming election and if he'll sign a pledge to do so.Frank Garcia, left, is asked by a High Tech Elementary School student if he's registered to vote in the upcoming election and if he'll sign a pledge to do so.

“Hi, I’m J.J., have you registered to vote on November 8th?”

Frank Garcia, a senior liberal studies major at the University of San Diego, politely replied, “Yes, I am.”  

Garcia’s answer prompted J.J. to expertly move to the next step, which was the next question on his flow chart. “Would you like to sign a pledge to vote?”  

Garcia again, replied “yes.” J.J. replied, "Thank you," and Garcia took pencil to paper, filled out his name and wrote a short reason why it was important to vote.  

J.J. beamed for a few seconds, offered Garcia a handmade red, white and blue button and turned away quickly in pursuit of the next USD student he wanted to ask and repeat his steps.

J.J., by the way, is seven years old. He was one of 60-plus first-graders from Chula Vista’s High Tech Elementary School who spent more than 90 minutes on the University of San Diego campus Monday — spread out around The Immaculata, Colachis Plaza, near Maher Hall, in front of the Hahn University Center and in the Student Life Pavilion’s Plaza Mayor — asking USD students, staff and everybody by if they were registered to vote.

Their presence was a fun, yet impactful message to remind all passersby that Monday, Oct. 24 was the last day possible for eligible California voters to register online so they can participate in the Nov. 8 election. In conjunction with USD Votes, an informative voter registration website as well as offering events organized and led by Political Science Professor Casey Dominguez, PhD, to be better informed, three High Tech teachers brought their classes and parents to USD as part of a class project. 

“We call it Voting to Change,” said first-grade teacher Matt Sheelen. “Our students are learning about the history of voting, why voting matters and we’re trying to encourage people to register to vote.”

High Tech Elementary - USD Votes 2016

During the course of their project, elementary students learned that college students represented one of the lowest voter group percentages in the 2012 presidential election. The solution? Come to the university with their smiling faces and determination and encourage college students to register and put their names on a classroom-made pledge sheet so they’ll remember to vote by Nov. 8.

Raquel Alcala, a 2014 USD alumna (BBA) and High Tech Elementary teacher, was happy to bring her 18 students and the other two classes involved in the project to USD.

“I knew the community would be welcoming and would participate,” Alcala said. “All of our students’ pledge sheets were signed and they gave away all of their buttons. It was great to be here and great for the students to learn and see why voting is so important, why it matters.”

Judging by the reaction of most USD community members who stopped and were asked, many students were already registered, but happy to listen to the young students’ pitch and to sign the pledge sheet. Best of all were the smiles on the faces of both USD students and the enthusiastic reminder by all elementary students and their colorfully homemade signs for everyone to, “Go! Go! Vote! Vote!”

— Ryan T. Blystone

See more photos from Monday's visit by High Tech Elementary students.

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