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Tracking the Election: Presidential Vote Puts Civics Back on the Map

At Mt. Pleasant Elementary, fourth graders learn all about the Electoral College.

The fourth graders at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School may have been too young to vote, but that didn’t mean they weren’t interested in tracking the Presidential Election. 

As the results rolled in Tuesday night, they were marking who won what and where, coloring in maps of the United States for either President Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney.  

Homework in hand, they gathered in school for the post-election analysis, taking turns to color a large map in the school’s lobby to provide a visual snapshot of the state-by-state results. Obama's wins, of course, being colored blue, while Romney's colored red. 

“It’s been an exciting 24 hours,” said Lucia Santarella, part of the team of Fourth Grade teachers at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School who led lessons to help students understand the election process.  “The results are almost in. With at least 303 electoral votes, we know President Obama has been re-elected.” 

Every four years, students get a lesson in American politics and civic responsibility. Throughout Livingston Public Schools, classes held mock elections, debated issues, and in the case of the MPE fourth-graders, came to understand the distinctions between the popular vote and the Electoral College. 

“We’re connecting what is going on in the real world with what is going on in the classroom,” said Santarella, who collaborated with teachers Allison Barbag and Susan Tannler. 

The fourth-graders were keenly aware the candidates needed 270 electoral votes to win. “It was going back and forth,” said Brandi Ramcoobeer of the election night drama.  

Added classmate Samantha Li, “It was the first year I actually understood it.”

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