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November 3, 2010
Union High School seniors Jacob Bradshaw (from left), Marisa Smith, Andi Gopffarth, Brittan Jenkins and Becky Moua encourage motorists to vote while holding signs on Mingo Road. The U.S. government students got a civics lesson with the exercise. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
by: KIM ARCHER Tulsa World Staff Writer
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an endorsement.)
Even though none of them can vote yet, 11 Union High School seniors turned a civics lesson into activism Tuesday.
The advanced placement students held signs and banners urging motorists traveling along Mingo Road to vote.
All are in a fifth period American government class in which they are earning high school and college credits.
"I'm trying to get them to understand they can participate in the political process," said John Smallwood, who teaches the Tulsa Community College class at the school. "One of the things any civics government class teaches is we're a democracy and to get involved."
Despite the wind and chill, the students excitedly held up posters and banners so motorists could see them. Cars honked as they passed by in support.
Several students worked against the wind to hold up a long banner that read, "Vote. Vote. Vote." Other students held up posters that read "Honk if you plan on exercising your voting rights" and "Go vote."
"It's motivating people to get out there and vote," said Andi Gopffarth, 17.
She spoke of the apathy many voters feel, the idea that one vote doesn't count:
"If that group of people who says no actually goes out and says yes this time, it could make a huge difference."
Joe McAuliff, who recently turned 18 but not in time to register to vote, said the things people vote on now can affect them years later.
"Being able to voice our opinion is one of the greatest privileges of being an American," he said. "We have a chance to change the course of history."
Adam McNulty, 17, said everybody has a right to voice their opinions in America.
"We're trying to persuade all people to go vote and express their opinion," he said.
Brittan Jenkins, 17, said she took the course to try to get a head start in college. "And it's free," she said.
But she said the class has turned into an exciting learning experience and has inspired her to participate in the American democratic process.
All the students said they plan to vote when they are old enough.
"Being able to exercise your rights, that's what America is about," Brittan said. "And it's about being free."