Laguna Beach High School has more than 200 students joining the ranks of newly registered voters-to-be thanks to the efforts of 12th-grade social studies teachers Mark Alvarez and Jonathan Todd in promoting civic engagement.
Each year, PTA provides voter registration packets to high school seniors in their LBHS U.S. government/economics classes to educate students about their rights and responsibilities when they turn 18 and encourage them to register or pre-register to vote (students who are 16 or 17 years old may pre-register and then vote when they turn 18).
The teachers incorporate the information into their lessons and offer extra credit to students who register or pre-register to vote. The process prompts in-class discussions of civic engagement and upcoming elections, and gets the students thinking about the adult world they will enter after graduation.
“It was pretty easy to register,” said high school senior Drake Fay. “The ‘When You Turn 18’ guide has some really interesting and useful things in it.” The guide is published by the California Bar Association.
To help develop good citizens, the teachers incorporate civics education into what they teach students every day. “After studying the Constitution, registering to vote reinforced the principle that our government is truly ‘for the people’ and ‘by the people’,” said Todd.
“Students are excited to get out there and vote in this next election!” said Alvarez. “We have been learning that at its heart, economics is the study of decision-making. What better lesson than for students to see firsthand how they can make a difference and that their choices matter.”