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A vote for the future

(ran PW, PS editions)

Election Day came early for the kids at Hudson Elementary School.

One week before grownups in some parts of the country were casting votes on Nov. 4, students in grades 3-5 were bellying up to voting machines to choose their Student Council officers.

"That wasn't so hard, was it?" fifth-grader Kristin Hramika said when she was finished. "It was sort of confusing to know who's better (to vote for). But I got through it."

It was a good civics lesson for the students, who were given a quick primer on how to use the touch-screen voting machines from representatives of the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Office. The office provided a staff member, three volunteers and four machines as part of an ongoing educational outreach program.

"We've been to five schools so far this year," staff member Sandy Lundquist said as another classroom of students streamed into the school's media center. "It's a real nice program. I think the kids enjoy it."

The kids learn about the importance of voting, Lundquist said.

"That's the point we're trying to get across. Hopefully, they go home and tell their parents, and their parents will vote in the next election," she said.

As far as the candidates were concerned, no major fundraising was going on. But the 18 running for president, vice president, treasurer and secretary had a variety of requirements to meet, Student Council adviser Julie Robinson said.

"They had to take a quiz, make posters and make speeches for the morning news show," she said.

Those not elected still will work on the Student Council and help with upcoming projects, including a food drive for the needy, a penny drive for new playground equipment and an outreach program with local nursing home residents.

Fourth-grader Nicholas Nero campaigned for treasurer. His qualifications?

"I'm trustworthy, honest and fair," he said after he collected his "I Voted" sticker. "And, I like to count money."

Fifth-grader Hunter Beals hoped to win the presidency.

"I'm responsible. I like being in charge of things, and I want to make the school a better place," she said.

Although some voters had a few outlandish requests - a swimming pool, ice cream and Slushie machines _ Hunter said she tried to keep her campaign promises within reason. "Things like getting better equipment for PE," she said.

Winners of the Student Council election were: Jake Aguis, president; Chelsea Duverseau, vice president; Alina Lawson, secretary; and Nickolas Nero, treasurer.

For more information

To get information on the Supervisor of Elections Office's educational outreach program or to request a student election at your school, visit http://pascovotes.com.

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