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Students vote on new school name

By Julia Beauregard
ometown Weekly Editor

Over 400 students at Deerfield and Hanlon elementary school, grades K-5, cast their vote last Friday to name their new school. Next February, the two elementary schools will join together under one new, modern roof.

Last month, townspeople submitted their suggestions for the name of the elementary school, and the school committee then narrowed it down to two choices: Pine Oak Elementary and Pine Hill Elementary. 

After the last school committee meeting it was decided that the students would be able to choose the name of their new school, as Westwood Schools Superintendent Emily Parks thought that this would provide the students with an excellent teaching opportunity for the student body. “Our Town Clerk has arranged for the company that prints the town election-day ballots to create mock ballots for this special election. The company, LHS Associates, has done this with no charge to the town as it’s part of a program they have to engage our youth in how the election process works.” Parks shared.

Not only did all of the students actively participate in the voting process, but fifth grade helpers from both schools volunteered to man the poles; these students checked the “voters” in, provided them with their ballot, directed them to the voting booths, and assisted them at the ballot box, to ensure that their ballots were cast. 

Town Clerk Dottie Powers was in attendance at Halon Elementary, as she personally trained the student volunteers on how to man the different voting stations. “We often hear that our youth would like to get involved in the election process and I truly believe this is a wonderful learning experience for these students,” said Powers. “They will get hands-on experience regarding the election process. I think this is an excellent way to get them excited about someday exercising their right and responsibility to vote.”

“The name of the new school is up to the students and students alone!” Matthew Kuklentz, Halon principal shared. It was plain to see that the students took this very seriously; they were all very eager to vote upon entering the cafeteria where the event was held, but remained silent as they checked in at the desk and filled out their ballots.

Emerson, a kindergartener at Deerfield, was the first official voter. Upon being asked how it felt to be the first voter, exclaimed that it felt good!

Fifth graders at Halon shared the same feelings. Nora shared that: “I felt very good about voting, it was fun!” 

While her friend Ella shared that, “voting is awesome.”

Fellow fifth grader Brodi stated that: “It was great! It feels weird because we voted for a new school name, not a president. I thought the first time I voted it would be for the president.”

At the end of the day, Pine Hill Elementary School was the winning name- however, all the students won out this day, as they learned the very important role of their civic responsibility.

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