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Rainbow students lobby, campaign and judge ‘cookie bandit’ in enrichment series

Parent volunteer Ranae Bartlett advised Aparna Bhooshanan during her campaign for U.S. president. Bhooshanan won by four votes. (CONTRIBUTED)
Parent volunteer Ranae Bartlett advised Aparna Bhooshanan during her campaign for U.S. president. Bhooshanan won by four votes. (CONTRIBUTED)
Andrew Shen, at left, consulted with Madison Mayor Troy Trulock during his U.S. presidential bid in the Rainbow Elementary School enrichment program. (CONTRIBUTED)
Andrew Shen, at left, consulted with Madison Mayor Troy Trulock during his U.S. presidential bid in the Rainbow Elementary School enrichment program. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Students campaigned, voted, lobbied and judged during Rainbow Elementary School’s latest enrichment venture.

In its third year, the Rainbow Enrichment Series allows teachers to pursue collaborative planning while students engage in out-of-book activities. This iteration explored American government’s three branches.

State Rep. Mac McCutcheon explained the legislative role by helping students introduce the “No Homework” and “Lettuce on Every Sandwich” bills. Students vigorously debated with McCutcheon.

Enrichment team member Emily Peck discussed the executive branch’s powers, along with the U.S. president’s qualifications and “different hats he wears. We debated how to balance a budget … something our congressional members haven’t quite mastered.”

Students chose to be voters, delegates or candidates. Delegates and candidates attended either a boys’ or girls’ convention, discussed polling data and selected candidates, Peck said.

Madison Mayor Troy Trulock and Madison Board of Education member Ranae Bartlett coached the boys’ and girls’ candidate, respectively. Aparna Bhooshanan won by four votes with their campaign on inner beauty. Opponent Andrew Shen lobbied about recess, the cafeteria and teachers.

For the judicial branch, students played roles to illustrate a hypothetical criminal case — ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court, Bartlett said. A male student was accused of stealing cookies, and all-female jury heard his case. Bartlett was defense attorney.

Bartlett applied her experience as a federal law clerk and courtroom attorney. “We discussed benefits of an elected and appointed judiciary, differences between criminal/civil cases and arguments at the trial versus appellate level,” Bartlett said.

Sixth-grader Olivia Rackauskas said, “Certain branches make laws. When it comes to passing a law, there’s a lot more arguing, time and debate than I realized. It’s more interesting than I thought.”

A Birmingham Civil Rights Institute representative discussed music’s role in motivating change. Burritt on the Mountain employees examine life before video games.

Rainbow PTA funds the program. The enrichment team plans all events and includes Peck, Paula Kelley, Nancy Jackson, Alana Taylor, Mindy Kirby and Wendy Player. “We’re contracted to provide monthly enrichment activities while teachers meet,” Peck said.

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