October Learning Lunch highlights civic education, Student Vote

On Nov. 1, Lincoln Public Schools students in grades four through 12 will participate in what has become an LPS tradition: Student Vote, which occurs every two years and provides students the opportunity to participate in a mock election.

Student Vote, and how it aligns with the school district’s social studies curriculum and civic learning, was the topic of the latest LPS Learning Lunch, “Informed Citizenship in Action: Student Vote,” held Oct. 9 at the LPS District Office.

Jaci Kellison, K-12 social studies curriculum specialist for LPS, offered an educator’s perspective on the importance of Student Vote, while Suzie Cho, a senior at Lincoln East High School, spoke about its positive impact on her and other students.

“Social studies instruction in Lincoln Public Schools empowers students to be engaged, active and informed members of our democratic society,” Kellison said.

A perfect example of that is Student Vote, which began in 1992. LPS partners with KFOR radio every two years to hold a mock election in elementary, middle and high schools all across Lincoln. Two years ago, nearly 22,000 students participated. Every LPS school, as well some of Lincoln’s parochial schools, has a teacher advisor for Student Vote, along with three to five student election commissioners.

On Nov. 1, students vote online using their Chromebooks. They’re presented with the same Lancaster County ballot that adult voters will see on election day, Nov. 6. Student Vote results will be posted on lps.org by 3:45 p.m. on Nov. 1.

There also are curriculum tie-ins leading up to Student Vote. For elementary students, there are lessons that focus on the question, “Why does voting matter?” For middle and high school students, it’s “How do I become an informed voter?”

Last summer, Cho was among only 100 high school students from across the country chosen to travel to Washington, D.C., for American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation, a program developed to introduce high school girls to public service. She credits Student Vote and her experience with LPS civic education for her ability and confidence to participate in a program as demanding as Girls Nation.

“Student Vote is a very powerful form of civic education,” Cho said. “It has to do with the level of engagement and excitement. Even second- or third-graders who can’t actually participate yet, they still get to see other people in their school getting really excited.

“The function of Student Vote is to get us, the students, to ask the question, ‘What am I a citizen of?’ The answer to that is not only my school, but my city, my state and the United States of America.”

Cho will be among the speakers at the Student Vote kick-off event on Thursday, Oct. 18, at Lincoln North Star High School. The event starts at 6 p.m. in the North Star theater.

Be sure to check lps.org during the coming weeks for additional stories, videos and photographs about Student Vote, as well as on Nov. 1 for coverage and results from the day.

LPS Learning Lunches are open to LPS staff and the Lincoln community. Learning Lunches are held in the boardroom at LPS District Office, 5905 O St. Doors open at 11:45 a.m., the program begins at noon, followed by questions-and-answers at 12:30 p.m. Please bring your own lunch – we’ll provide dessert.

The rest of the 2018-19 season:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 20: “Welcome Center: Opening doors into our community for families from around the world,” Laura Salem, supervisor, LPS English Language Learner program.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 11: “Recruitment and Retention of Talent in LPS,” Eric Weber, associate superintendent for human resources at LPS.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 15: “VOICE at LPS: Readiness for Resumes, Rent and Recreation,” Tonya Jolley, coordinator of VOICE (Vocational Opportunity in Community Experience).
  • Tuesday, Feb. 26: “Budget Development in LPS,” Liz Standish, associate superintendent for business affairs at LPS.
  • Tuesday, March 19: “Twenty-five years of student-built houses,” Bob Freese, Lincoln Northeast High School teacher.
  • Tuesday, April 16: “LPS Student Debate,” Mindy Murphy, LPS curriculum specialist for English language arts for secondary education.
  • Tuesday, May 14: “Aprenda mientras toma su almuerzo con los Mariachis de las Ciudad Estrella!” (Learn while you have your lunch with The Star City Mariachi Ensemble), Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for music at LPS.

Published: October 12, 2018, Updated: October 18, 2018

"The function of Student Vote is to get us, the students, to ask the question, 'What am I citizen of?' The answer to that is not only my school, but my city, my state and the United States of America."

Suzie Cho, senior at Lincoln East High School