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Plymouth Whitemarsh High School

PWHS seniors register to vote in social studies class

PWHS seniors register to vote in social studies class
girl with I Registered To Vote sticker

The Pennsylvania primary election on April 23 will have several first time voters, thanks to the U.S. Government and Politics courses at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School that enable eligible seniors to register to vote in class. 

"Voting provides citizens with the opportunity to participate in the largest governmental decisions, and ensures that their voices are considered," said PWHS senior Mokeira Gekonge.

“Many 12th graders are newly eligible and unaware that they must register to vote two weeks prior to election day,” said PWHS social studies teacher Maggie Coyle. “Working voter registration into the curriculum ensures that students are aware of the rules surrounding voting so that their voices are not suppressed.”

During the course, the students explore their political beliefs through a personal lens that includes how demographics—like family influences, religion, socioeconomic background, and ethnicity—affect those beliefs. The seniors also take a number of political typology quizzes to help determine where they fall on the political spectrum. Students use this information to choose which party their beliefs match for when they register to vote. 

"It is the first step to becoming politically involved in the country, the state, and local governments,” said PWHS senior Alex Babka. “I can feel like I am a part of a larger body of people committed to the American people.”

Students registering to vote online using laptops

Many of the seniors viewed the activity as part of their transition to life after high school.

"Registering to vote is a right of passage that shows we are getting older and more mature,” said Hope Nasatir. “It is exciting to be an adult and to be able to use my voice while voting."

U.S. Government and Politics, the 12th grade required social studies class, covers topics like the origins of democracy, the structure and functions of government, and political ideology, in addition to political participation.