By BEN KLEIN
If Tuesday's general election was left to students at Sheffield Area Middle High School, President Barack Obama would win another four-year term.
SAMHS students and staff turned the presidential election into a unique educational opportunity with cross-curricular lessons culminating in a school-wide mock election last Thursday and Friday.
"We want them to be voters when they leave here, that's part of being a productive citizen," SAMHS Principal Amy Beers said.
Seventh- and eighth-grade social studies students compared the campaigns, made predictions for battleground states and studied the Electoral College. They learned about fossil fuels and alternative energy sources while discussing the pros and cons of each. Students also wrote scripts of what they would say to big businesses for or against the use of those sources of energy.
Middle-level math students tested their skills by tallying results of polls from a number of questions that tackled lower taxes, cutting defense spending, helping lower-income children to get into college and creating bar, circle and histogram graphs of the results.
Language Arts Teacher Barbara Urban said this was her favorite unit so far this year because the students were able to use a range of activities to apply the curricular topics to the presidential election.
"In my class, students learned about bias, propaganda techniques, and public speaking skills," Urban said in an email. "Activities included interactive websites, working with groups to locate bias in newspaper articles, creating advertisements using propaganda techniques, and analyzing the presidential candidates' public speaking skills during debates."
Seniors in Stacie Warner's government and economics class formed campaigns and held a debate complete with a time frame to present an argument and counter argument in front of undecided voters.
Caren Pence, Warren County School District instructional teacher coach, watched the debate as an "undecided voter" and said she was impressed by the students' "attention to detail and attitude."
Eligible students were also provided the opportunity to register to vote with the help of Jane Dunshie and the Warren County League of Women Voters.
Voter booths were set up for the school-wide mock election in Tom Smoulder's computer lab that used online resources to hold a realistic mock election.
"The mock election at SAMHS was a big success. The program I used ran smoothly and we got our results back in a day," Smoulder said. "Through this project the art students in Mrs. Hartburg's class became involved by creating the election booth. Plus, the social studies classes used it as an opportunity to engage the students in the up and coming election. It was great to see a middle and high school event run together so efficiently with a lot of enthusiasm from our students."
As for the results of the school-wide mock election?
President Barack Obama won the presidential election with 50.58 percent of the vote. Republican contender Mitt Romney received 39.77 percent; write-ins made up 4.63 percent. Approximately 2.7 percent of the students abstained; Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson received 1.93 percent and Jill Stein of the Green Party won .39 percent of the vote.
Republican Tom Smith won the race for U.S. Senate with 44.4 percent of the vote; incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr. received 42.08 percent; Libertarian Rayburn Douglas Smith, 6.56 percent; 4.25 percent abstained; and 2.7 percent were write-ins.
Students also voted in Republican Glenn Thompson to the U.S. House of Representatives with 50.26 percent of the vote; Democrat Charles Dumas received 45.13 percent; 3.59 percent abstained; and 1.03 percent were write-ins.