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Vote for me: A glimpse of high school campaigns

Thursday, May 28, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:51 a.m. CDT, Thursday, May 28, 2009
Sophomore Wilson Pfeiffer casts his vote for Rock Bridge High School Student Council officers on April 30. At Rock Bridge, the process for a position on the Student Council began at the Spring Assembly on April 24, while Hickman High School's campaign lasted a week.

At Rock Bridge, the process to become Student Council president began during the Spring Assembly on the morning of April 24. Candidates for various offices gave speeches to the student body gathered in the school's gymnasium. The speeches, which ranged from one to three minutes, were often funny and light.

In the days before Rock Bridge students voted on April 30, candidates could hang either four large posters or 16 smaller fliers in school. Presidential candidate Heather Eaton concentrated fliers near the main office and around the cafeteria, close to where voting occurred. On one flier, she wore a hot dog costume. Her opponent, Ismam Islam, displayed one large poster near the polls that began, "With Great POWER Comes Great RESPONSIBILITY."

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Hickman's campaign lasted a week. The student body assembled to meet the candidates the morning of April 21. The next day, candidates participated in meet-and-greets during the busy lunch hours, handing out candy and other treats.

Although Hickman junior Latonia Hammers voted for presidential candidate Michael Corey-Yares, she said the election mattered most to the people running and the outcome did not affect her personally. Sophomore Gerald Pegg agreed, saying he did not care about the outcome "that much."

Hickman junior Hailey Charlton said the president should be someone accessible and responsible.

Candidates were allowed to campaign and canvass during both lunch periods to get their campaign messages out to their peers, said Jami Thornsberry, Hickman's student government adviser.

"Many of those messages mimicked the message of the Obama campaign last year, calling for both hope and change," she said. "I am not entirely sure that they really wanted hope and change, but they certainly aped the slogan without hesitation."

David Bones, assistant principal in charge of student activities at Rock Bridge, said being Student Council president is a huge responsibility. The president plans, among other things, homecoming, courtwarming and student assemblies.

“The president is responsible for making sure those (events) all run smoothly,” Bones said. “They are essential so all these events are well-presented and well-attended.”

Student council members attend early-morning committee meetings every week to put those events together.

Eaton's goals: “My biggest goal I have is to get more people involved. We have a lot of students and a lot of school spirit, so I hope to get more people involved. Student council president actually means you’re in charge of everything from start to finish. It’s more about responsibility and about how to take on a task that large and accomplish it.”

Corey-Yares' goals: “This year, we’ve raised a lot of money, and I’d like to get out there and just start doing stuff with the community. If you can get out there and help people, they can see you and say, ‘Oh, you’re from Hickman! That’s great!’”

Corey-Yares said every president must bring something new to the office and offer something different, though there are some characteristics shared by himself and other presidents.

"You have to be charismatic," he said, "and enjoy talking to people."

Corey-Yares said that though every student represents the school in the community, there is added pressure for school leaders.

"They help us a lot with our activities," he said, "and we try to help them."


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