Kiski Area High School wins award for registering students to vote
Kiski Area High School is among six high schools in southwestern Pennsylvania receiving a Governor’s Civic Engagement Award for registering at least 65% of its students to vote, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Only two schools — Kiski Area and Purchase Line Junior/Senior High School in Indiana County — received Gold Level awards for registering at least 85% of students. They received their awards Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh.
Four schools received Silver Level awards for registering at least 65% of their eligible students: Albert Gallatin Area High School in Fayette County, Canon-McMillan and Trinity high schools in Washington County and South Fayette High School in Allegheny County.
In addition, six students — four from Kiski Area and one each from Canon-McMillan and Trinity — received individual awards for registering their peers and also serving as poll workers for the November election.
The Kiski Area students honored, all seniors, were Jared Custer, Haley Custer, Sara Lyons and Shelby Glentzer.
“This really is a credit to our high school Social Studies Department and department Chair Dave Williamson for teaching the importance of civic responsibility and democratic participation,” said Timothy Scott, Kiski Area School District superintendent. “They are to be commended for turning lessons in the classroom into a call to action.”
Williamson said the biggest hurdle in persuading Kiski Area students to register to vote was “getting over the stigma of politics.”
Given the polarized, over-the-top rhetoric of the political parties these days, students weren’t eager to walk into that, he said.
“We kept it totally nonpartisan and helped them though the registration process,” he said.
Williamson and James McKenzie, another Kiski Area social studies teacher, guided their students to use targeted and persuasive methods — in the form of doughnuts and brownies — to lure their potential voters.
First, they found out which student would be eligible to vote in the May 21 primary. Then students called each potential voting student and pitched the importance of voting and voter registration.
“It was students helping other students to register to vote,” Williamson said.
The Governor’s Civic Engagement Award program encourages eligible Pennsylvania high school students to participate in elections as voter registration drive organizers, voters and poll workers.
This year 23 high schools around the state earned awards through the program and eight students won individual awards.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .