ROXBURY, NJ - Nixon Elementary School recently held a building-wide mock election that taught students about the voting process and the importance of casting votes but will also help St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Rather than having students vote for candidates, Nixon teacher Rebecca Freeborn organized the mock election so that students voted for a charity. St. Jude's, the winning charity, will receive a donation on behalf of the school.

“As a class, we came up with causes that we cared about and narrowed it down into categories such as health, poverty and helping animals and the environment," Freeborn said. "With that, we researched organizations that helped these causes. We ended up choosing Oceana, Toys for Tots and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.”

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Freeborn’s students broke into “campaign teams” and worked on various campaigning materials for each cause. “We compiled information through research, created posters, and even made short campaign commercials," said the teacher. 

“I loved doing the researching part and I had a lot of fun creating and starring in the commercial for St. Jude. Especially since we got to dress up like doctors,” said fourth-grader Mackenzie Johnston.

Another student of Freeborn’s, Mackenzie Mylan, shared this regarding her experience: “It was really fun! It was a lot of work to gather all the information and creating the materials was a process.”

Freeborn couldn’t have been prouder of the hard work her students put into this project. “All the credit is due to my students for being incredible campaign workers and doing all the hard work to get the information out!”

Her students provided the school with plenty of information about each “candidate” through multiple types of platforms so every student could make an informed decision. They shared information on the morning announcements and Freeborn created a virtual polling place via Google Slides which was shared with the school.

This presentation contained three slides. The first with links to read-alouds, articles and informational videos about presidents and elections. There was something for all grade levels that could be explored in class or independently. The second contained links to information regarding the three charities on the ballot and the third was Freeborn’s Bitmoji Polling Place where students and staff could cast their ballot on election day.

Teachers were also provided with voter registration cards they could give to their students, “If I were president” writing prompts and “I Voted” sticker templates.

“This allowed students to participate in the voting process, begin to develop their understanding of voting and informed decision-making, and get involved in the election in their own way,” shared Freeborn.

This building-wide mock election took place Nov. 3 with students and staff each casting one vote for their charity of choice.

Post-election, Freeborn’s class transitioned from campaign teams to election officials. “We analyzed the data, made predictions and counted the votes," she said. "We received a total of 183 votes. Fifty-three percent of the votes went to St. Jude, 28.4 percent for Oceana and 18.6 percent to Toys for Tots.”

“It ended up not even being a competition since St. Jude was the clear winner,” explained fourth grader Nicholas Pierri.

Results were shared with the school on Nov. 11 through morning announcements with Principal Danielle Lynch making the donation in honor of the students and staff of Nixon School the following day.

“Thank you, Becky and her class for all of their efforts. It is incredible that we have staff and students leading such wonderful learning opportunities that give us the opportunity to also give to others,” shared Lynch via email with her staff and families.