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Yuba City high school confidential: voting
Here's how about 800 Yuba City High School students voted in a mock election Friday:
Barack Obama 320
Mitt Romney 210
Roseanne Barr 37
Gary Johnson 36
Jill Stein 23
Thomas Hoefling 6
Proposition 30 (increase sales and income taxes)
Yes: 425 No: 336
Proposition 31 (two-year state budget cycle)
Yes: 374 No: 369
Proposition 32 (restrict union expenditures on politics)
Yes: 303 No: 451
Proposition 37 (require labels on genetically modified foods)
Yes: 423 No: 359
Students at two Yuba City high schools got their first taste of participatory democracy Friday, and for the amount of preparation they did, it's all the more remarkable that it didn't count.
For the first time, seniors at River Valley High School took part in a mock presidential election, as did about 800 students in all grade levels at Yuba City High School.
Voting was only the last step in the students' civics lesson. At River Valley, all government/economics students researched parties, political philosophies, candidates and ballot measures, then made presentations and had debates.
On voting day — other schools, including Sutter High, will have their mock elections Tuesday — many students clutched pieces of paper with their notes on them as went into the booths. "We researched them all, did posters and debates. I'd say it was more interesting to me," said Hayley Horan, 17, a River Valley senior, after she was one of the first in her group to vote. "It makes me feel like doing my part."
Many students said the experience of the mock election — complete with an "I Voted" sticker at the end — made them more likely to do the real thing when they turn 18.
Beckie Jennings, a Sutter resident who volunteered to organize the River Valley election, said that is the desired reaction.
"This is a great real-life experience for them," she said between handing out ballots Friday morning. "And they're really enthusiastic."
Teacher Shane Cullen said he saw the enthusiasm build. When his class watched the presidential debates, the cheering, booing and reactions to great lines among his students made it feel more like they were watching a sporting event than a political one.
"I tell them, 'You need to formulate your own opinion, not what your parents think or what I think,'" Cullen said, adding he also admonished them to remember a quote he put on the blackboard: "In politics, you either play or get played."
Some students said they had a sense of the latter, as well. Taylor Zank, a River Valley senior, said he learned how commercials and other political advertising can be intended to confuse as much as inform.
But other students said the lingering sense for them was of having done something new and unfamiliar, but exciting.
"It feels so weird since it's my first time," said Aileen Napuli, a Yuba City High senior. "I feel so grown up."