A handful of West Lincoln High School students spent election day right in the thick of things.
â€œPolitics have always been interesting to me, and I wanted to see how it all worked,â€ said Valerie Site, a senior at the high school.
Site and six fellow students spent their day off from school working the polls. The students handed out pens, translated and explained ballots.
â€œThey were wonderful,â€ said Jane Carswell, an election judge. â€œWe enjoyed them so today. Hopefully weâ€™ll get them back.â€
All the students participating on election day were at least 17 years old and were recommended by staff.
This was the first year it was legal for them to participate, and they were always the youngest ones at a voting site.
They hoped to prove that not all teenagers are apathetic when it comes to politics, despite some peopleâ€™s preconceptions.
â€œThey think we donâ€™t understand whatâ€™s going on, that weâ€™re too young to have a say so,â€ said Lindsey Houser, a senior.
When being trained for their new jobs, the students were surrounded by retirees.
â€œI think they were definitely surprised,â€ said Zach Quickel, a senior at the school. â€œOlder people really donâ€™t think we care about whatâ€™s going on, but us being there shows we do care.â€
The students were surprised themselves when they learned that they would be paid for their services.
â€œTheyâ€™re all so thrilled,â€ said Beverly Gantt, West Lincoln High Schoolâ€™s counseling assistant.
After a 12 hour day at the polls, however, that enthusiasm had gradually turned to exhaustion.
â€œIâ€™m tired,â€ said Marina Cerda, a student who arrived at her polling location at 7 a.m.
Marina spent the day handing out pens and helping with translation.
â€œItâ€™s something new, something I never did before,â€ she said.
Lindsey did double duty on election day, both helping with the campaign and voting for the first time.
â€œI want to vote because I want to support our troops and everything,â€ she said.
Lindsey voted Republican, but some of her fellow students were supporting Kerry. Either way, the teenagers had a strong opinion.
They admitted, however, that not all their peers shared a passion for politics.
â€œIt just depends really,â€ said Roxie Judd, a senior. â€œI care. Some people, they just go through life not caring.â€
Staff Writer Sarah Grano can be reached at 704-735-3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org Sarah Grano