By Armand Emamdjomeh
One by one, they marched into the booth, cast their votes, and walked out. Voter turnout was extremely heavy, approaching 96%. With all the ballots cast, the polls closed and the business of tallying the results began in earnest. The final results were announced.
Barack Obama – 24, John McCain – 0.
Nearly unanimously, President-elect Barack Obama swept Ms. Emily Gibson’s fifth-grade class at Moscone Elementary School.
The election, which took place the day before the actual election on November 3, 2008, was the result of a series of lessons in Ms. Gibson’s class in which students read articles on Obama and McCain and where they stood on their respective issues.
Like their elder counterparts who might vote for the candidate they could most easily sit down to beer with, the children thought of sitting for cookies and milk.
“He’s cooooooool!” said one Pablo, when asked to explain why he would have voted for Obama. Pablo abstained from voting for religious reasons.
But while the economy seems to have been the dominant factor across the nation, these voters focused primarily on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I thought he would make a better president, that he would stop the wars,” said Carla, adding that her brother was deployed abroad. Also, Obama, she said, “would make history.”
Many students spoke of their hope that Obama would end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, but other issues included immigration, the economy and education.
Others had already begun to form voting standards based on party affiliations.
“We need a Democrat in this world,” said Michael, a student sitting in the front row, “no more Republicans, please.”
Students also offered the president advice, giving their version of what they would do, were they in his shoes.
First, said Maddy, “I would take a tour of the White House, looking at everything I had to do.” Next on his priority list would be addressing and ending the war.
“A lot of people in the war…have families and kids, and they don’t get to be with their kids or wives, and it’s really sad for them.”
Lupe was more concerned about addressing immigration, “I would get straight to work, giving papers to all the immigrants.” She also placed global warming on top of her priority list.
Jaspreet, focused on keeping his own family happy at home.
“I would buy the puppy!” he said jumping up and down in excitement, referring that Obama’s daughters have been reported to be anxiously awaiting.
Others were more introverted.
“The first thing I would do is repaint the White House,” said Roberto, leaning out of his front-row seat, “I would just get some colors and splat it on the thing!”
“Then I would play some video games, FIFA ‘09”
On issues, he shook his head, as he shared the thoughts doubtlessly echoed by many in our nation’s capital.
“I really don’t know what to do with this country.”
Gibson’s class was encouraged to take their discussions home and speak with their parents about the issues as well. Having won the class overwhelmingly, students look forward to the next four years.
“We’re just really excited in this classroom about what the future holds,” Gibson said.
To ensure their voices are heard, the students wrote letters after the election. Click below to hear an audio collage of the students reading their letters.[audio:http://media.journalism.berkeley.edu/mission/kidsobamaaudio.mp3]