The British International School of Washington held mock elections on Tuesday, November 3. The event coincided with the presidential election in the United States, and it was an excellent way for the students to see democracy in action. This year, Team Gwen and Harriet secured the votes to become president and vice president.
There were four teams of two students, each with a presidential candidate from Year 11 and a vice-presidential candidate from Year 6. The teams developed political parties, which were entirely unrelated to real political parties around the world, and they engaged with the student body through campaign advertisements and catchy slogans. Also, in October, the students held an online debate to discuss goals and campaign promises before the big day.
Viviana and Ximena aimed to develop new comfortable spaces for students, while Derek and Ethan hoped to reintroduce some of their favourite playground games. Gwen and Harriet pledged to launch “Fun Fridays,” and Rivard and Haru wanted to improve student-to-student tutoring and lunch choices.
“We put on the election at a key moment in history,” said Mr Lee, BISW’s Head of Secondary. “Outside of school, children are excluded from the right to vote, but here we teach students about democracy, so this mock election gave them a fun way to get involved in a democratic process.”
Gwen and Harriet garnered early support from the electorate, which was made up of students in Years 1 through 13 and BISW staff, when they were the first team to display campaign flyers, submit a campaign video, and create a jingle. They developed a genuine friendship while campaigning, which made it easy for them to promote their team. They also had one of the catchiest slogans: “Grab a pen. Vote for Gwen.” In the final figures, Gwen and Harriet won 53% of the total vote and about 75% of the primary school’s vote.
“Students learned that an election is not just as simple as putting your name in a hat,” Mr Lee said. “They learned lessons on how to run a successful campaign, and they saw that it is important to be proactive, think creatively, have a plan, and know how to reach out to people.”
In the end, the whole school was a winner. The event was educational and fun, everyone had a great time on the campaign trail, and the mock election day was a roaring success with a huge turnout of more than 75% of the electorate.