VALHALLA, N.Y. – Parents won’t be the only ones heading to the voting booths today to vote in the Valhalla Union Free School District election. Students will step in their own booth as well by participating in the district’s Children’s Voting Program.
“It’s something that’s very important to our students in order to get them involved with civic matters that pertain to them,” Schools Superintendent Brenda Myers said.
Myers said the Children’s Voting Program was started in the district many years ago and takes place annually through the district PTA on the same day that residents vote on the budget and Board of Education candidate. Virginia Road School, Kensico School and Valhalla Middle School students all participate in the program. The students from each school are given the choice of two recreational activities or events to end their school year. Parents can bring their children with them to the actual voting areas for the district where the students are taken to their own separate room with actual voting machines, just like the ones their parents use.
Myers said voting for something that the children believe in is important to learning the ropes of a democracy.
“The percentage of people in this country that actually go out and vote is very low,” Myers said. “So we want to help promote the democratic value of going out and voting for something that you want.”
On this year’s ballot, students in the Virginia Road School will have the choice of extra time during recess or a pajama movie day. Kensico School students can choose either a ‘Minute to Win It’ style contest day or a school-wide scavenger hunt. Students in the middle school will chose between a movie night or being able to wear backpacks throughout a school day, which is normally not permitted.
Although the election promotes democracy, Myers said she hasn’t seen any radical campaigns by students.
“I’m sure students are telling their friends ‘vote for the pajama party’, but I haven’t seen any campaign Facebook pages or anything like that,” Myers joked.
The Children’s Voting Program will take place during the district’s afternoon/evening voting hours from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Polls also will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Polling places are at the Kensico School, 320 Columbus Ave. in Valhalla; the North Castle Community Center at 10 Clove Road in North White Plains; and the Virginia Road School at 86 Virginia Road in North White Plains.