LHS places third in state in voter registration contest

By Dick Mason, The Observer November 02, 2012 01:20 pm

American government students at La Grande High have helped put their school in the state voter registration spotlight.

The students’ efforts this fall have propelled LHS to a third place finish in the statewide Democratic Cup voter registration competition for rural schools. 

The news was announced  this week by the Bus Project Foundation of Portland. 

The Bus Project, which puts on the Democratic Cup competition, is a non-partisan, non-profit organization engaged in involving young people in the democratic process across the state.  

“This is very exciting,” said LHS social studies teacher Josh White, who instructs his school’s American government classes.

Students in White’s  classes conducted a voter registration drive at LHS, which helped get 70 students signed up. This allowed LHS to place third in the rural school division of the Democratic Cup competition. The rural division of the competition consists of schools in towns with populations of 30,000 or less.

Tongue Point Job Corps of Astoria placed first in the rural school division by registering 92 voters, and Dallas High School took second by signing up 83 voters.

 Students in White’s classes at LHS signed up voters following presentations on democracy and the importance of voting by Bus Project Foundation members.

The majority of LHS students who registered did so in the American government classes after the Bus Project presentations. Students in LHS economics and U.S. history classes also registered after forms were brought  into the classes. 

White was impressed with how many students stepped forward to register. He said people tend to view members of this generation of young people as apathetic “but they really are passionate about what’s going on in the  world.”

Bus Project Foundation members also gave a  presentation on the importance of voting and becoming active voters to Kelly Anderes’ citizenship class at Union High School. 

The presentation, made on Constitution Day, Sept. 17, motivated many students to register, said Anderes. Virtually all of UHS’s seniors have now registered to vote. 

“We commend them (UHS) for their work in promoting civic education,” said Amanda Tripp Johansson of the Bus Project. 

The students who registered at LHS and UHS included 17 year olds. These youths are too young to vote but are eligible to pre-register.  

Seventeen year olds who reregister will be eligible to vote without filling out additional forms the day they turn 18.

The presentations by the Bus Project staff at UHS and LHS coincided with their schools’ efforts to get  students interested in the United States’ democratic process. 

White said it is easier to pique student interest in democracy during a presidential election year.

“This is a wonderful time to be teaching American government.”