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Ward Melville Seniors Get Real-Life Voting Lesson

More than 200 students have registered to vote.

From the local school budget vote all the way up to the 2012 presidential election, voting has been a hot topic lately at Ward Melville High School.

Social studies and economics teachers have led the way in helping more than 200 seniors – roughly a third of the class – get registered to vote.

"We don't push anybody to vote, although we do emphasize the importance of civic responsibility and how our country was founded on the notion of civic freedom," said Dr. Alan Baum, Ward Melville principal.

Tracy Beauchamp, who chairs the Social Studies Department, said teachers delivered the lesson in multiple ways.

For instance, she said, one Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher asked her students to make posters advertising the senior class voter registration campaign, and the posters went up all over the school. In an Economics class, Beauchamp said, voting was discussed in the context of .

In her own classes, students learned that to this day there are still people in the world who have to fight for the right to vote.

"In some way [teachers] managed to bring in voter registration, the impact of voting and why it's important to vote," Beauchamp said. "You want your voice to be heard."

Baum said the students learned they can vote in multiple elections – such as school elections, fire district elections, and town elections depending on where each student lives – and that they can also vote via absentee ballott.

"I think they get it," Baum said. "Let's see what happens."

Beauchamp said many students were surprised to learn that they can register to vote while they are still 17 as long as they will be 18 prior to the election. "We got to tell them something they didn't know, and we got a lot more kids registered than if they waited until they were 18," she said.

This type of voter registration campaign is not new at WMHS.

"It's been done in past years, but this year I think because of the upcoming presidential election we made an extra effort to try and encourage the kids to register," Beauchamp said. "It's an event that we hope to continue."

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