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Orange County Focus

BUENA PARK : Students Get Taste of Political Process

October 29, 1992|DEBRA CANO

Buena Park Junior High School eighth-grader Jeramy Ostrander went to the polls and was going to vote for George Bush.

But Ostrander, 13, voted for Ross Perot for President instead.

Students who crowded near polling booths booed after he announced his choice in the presidential race.

Ostrander then explained why he voted for the billionaire.

"He's proved that he's made a lot of money, so maybe he can prove he can make some money for America," he said.

Students staged a mock election Tuesday and Wednesday on campus--complete with official ballots asking for their choices for President, state offices, the local school board and City Council.

And they realized the importance of making their vote count.

Bill Clinton was their choice to be this country's next President, capturing 147 votes. Perot was the second favorite with 137 votes, while President Bush trailed, tallying 126 votes. Other presidential candidates captured a total of six votes.

Eighth-grader Wilma Hurd-Stovall, 13, who voted for Clinton, said: "To tell you the truth, I don't like the other candidates. I like Clinton because he's trying to help people--and George Bush, he's already had his turn."

Seventh-grader Eugene So, also 13, said Bush got his vote for the presidency.

"I think he's done a pretty good job, and I don't think he should lose it," he said. "I think he should still be President."

School officials said less than 50% of the 900-member student body participated in the election. Students had to vote on their own time--during lunch, nutrition break, or before or after school.

"I was hoping for more" votes, said history teacher Pauline O'Dell. "But we made the kids find the time. And they're like adults. We don't always find the time to vote."

Despite the low turnout at the polls, students and teachers agreed it was a lesson well learned in exercising one's right to vote.

"I think it's a good idea so kids can get involved and express their constitutional rights and have the chance to experience what adults do," said Teresa Flores, 14, student body president. "Because voting is a very important issue."

In history classes, students studied the candidates and their party affiliations and learned about the political process. They also talked about issues such as abortion, the deficit, the economy and the environment.

Teacher Linda Sunley, who organized the election, said students gained a better understanding and background of the democratic process.

"It makes them appreciate democracy," she said.

However, some students didn't want to vote, which teachers reminded students is also part of the democratic process.

"It's not just a school problem, but society is like that," O'Dell said.

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