Harrodsburg students learn importance of voting

October 08, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

HARRODSBURG - Eric Gilpin has been a teacher at Harrodsburg High School for seven years, and has been teaching U.S. government for the last six years.

"Since government is a required class to graduate, I've really had every student here at one time within their high school education." Gilpin added that he's happy to be able to teach students the value of being informed.

"I would say that most kids have the same belief system as what they grew up with at home, which is natural and really the way it ought to be."

The class covers units on political parties and their histories, and the importance of voting, for example.

The classes take some time to discuss contemporary issues such as abortion, gay rights and the death penalty. Gilpin said he makes certain that the students realize that he doesn't care who they vote for or what their opinions are - as long as they are voting and expressing them.


"A lot of kids vote the way their friends or other peers do, so now they can begin to explore their own beliefs when they are more educated," he said.

The perception of younger voters may be that they stand for a more liberal idealism, but Gilpin said, "Over the years I've been here, you'll find more conservative kids every year than you think."

Gilpin said he thinks there is a greater awareness of democracy because of 9/11 and the war.

"Regardless of how they think about what's going on, I just like them to be secure enough to be able to vote and choose," he said.

Mock election held Sept. 30

The voting machine that Mercer County Clerk Ronnie Compton delivered to Harrodsburg High School was placed in the media room for a Sept. 30 mock election.

The high school tied the mock election for the political race in with the real vote for homecoming queen.

"We had three girls that sat at a table with registration cards and a sign-in book. While they checked their voter registrations, the kids in line would be able to write down their votes for homecoming queen," Gilpin said.

Gilpin also makes it easy for students on the real Election Day.

Every student in any of Gilpin's classes who is eligible to vote is given the opportunity. "We take them down behind the school where the voting is held at the Lion's Club," he said.

"We just walk them down there during school hours so they can vote."

Gilpin said that just about every student he has encountered has voted in the school's mock election, though there were a handful who refused to participate.

"I think the reason they didn't vote is the same as why some adults don't. Some are just laid back about the issues or don't really care. They may not really know what's going on, or are a little insecure about actually using the voting machine."

That's why, Gilpin says, they feel very fortunate to have had the voting machine on the premises. The students can get comfortable with the machine.

"They've interacted with it at an early age, so hopefully they will graduate and be informed citizens," he said.

Some students do make it a practice to be informed.

Recently, Gilpin said there was a debate in Harrodsburg between the two candidates for state representative, and the juniors and seniors were able to attend. Two students from each school were chosen to ask questions.

Gilpin said some of the kids are very concerned about current issues, and had excellent questions to ask during the debate.



Bush 40%

Kerry 43%

Peroutka less than 1%

Nader 16%

Badnarik less than 1%

U.S. Senator

Bunning 54%

Mongiardo 46%

U.S. Representative

Buford 21%

Chandler 64%

Abner 10%

Gailey 5%

State Representative

Dedman 40%

Clark 60%

Gay Marriage Amendment

Yes 57%

No 43%

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