Rainbow sixth-graders hold convention, elect their own president

Forget the debates. Rainbow Elementary School sixth-graders rallied at their ‘convention’ to nominate and elect their own choice for president. Nominees even had coaching from Madison politicians.

The election was part of Rainbow’s enrichment series, allowing students to pursue out-of-book activities while teachers engage in collaborative planning.

Teachers and volunteers explained aspects of the national presidential election and gave polling results so students could select their grade’s candidate, substitute teacher Emily Peck said.

Students then chose to be a voter, convention delegate or candidate. Each class chose a boy and a girl candidate. ‘Conventions’ were held by gender. Voters used a scholastic website that explained the importance of a strong cabinet and learned about changes to campaign styles over time, Peck said.

City Council President Ronica Ondocsin and mayor-elect Troy Trulock coached candidates Heather Phillips and Matt Jones.

Candidates designed posters, coined slogans and discussed strategies. City Council President Ronica Ondocsin and mayor-elect Troy Trulock coached the candidates.

“The kids had so much fun while taking this endeavor seriously,” Ondocsin said. “Future voters (need) to understand the election process and how significant every vote is. I hope … they’ll even consider running for public office.” Trulock explained the privilege of nomination by peers and the desire to run showed true leadership.

“After learning about how presidential campaigns were conducted throughout history, Troy Trulock shared how campaigns are conducted today,” volunteer and school board member Ranae Bartlett said. Trulock also discussed methods of communications used in a digital age and the importance of social media.

“Having Mr. Trulock and Ms. Ondocsin present to interact with the students really made what we were teaching relevant and current,” Bartlett said. Bartlett scripted the poll, compiled polling data and led the boys’ convention.

“We asked 60 students to stand up,” Peck said. Teachers explained only 58 percent of registered voters went to the polls in the 2008 presidential election. “We told students voting is a right, but it’s a choice.”

Polling helped delegates with campaign strategy and showed students the candidate most likely to win … not necessarily their best friend, Peck said.

Rainbow fifth-graders’ election is planned for Nov. 5, the day before the presidential election.

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