Hammond High students do civic duty
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent March 20, 2012 2:04PM
Barb Schilling of the League of Womens Voters of the Calumet Area checks a voter registration card at Hammond (Ind.) High on March 13, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~For Sun-Times Media
AT A GLANCE
† The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political group that promotes participation in government.
† For more information about the local group, call (219) 228-1899 or visit the website
Updated: March 20, 2012 2:12PM
Jesus Meza, 18, wanted to register to vote this year, but the Hammond High School senior hadn’t found the time and worried the process may be complex.
He found out differently when he attended a recent after-school session in the school cafeteria sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Calumet Area. Members of the group registered 45 students.
“I didn’t think there were any concerted efforts to register high school students in our area, so the LWVCA decided to take on this challenge,” said member Barbara Schilling.
Hammond was the first scheduled visit; Morton High School was next on the list.
“Hopefully, the other high schools in Hammond will follow suit in the very near future,” Schilling said. “I’m also hopeful we will be able to visit other school systems in Lake County.”
Schilling, who has been with the group for 15 years, was instrumental in bringing the voter registration experience to Hammond schools.
Senior Monesha Broughton will turn 18 on Aug. 18, well before the next major elections Nov. 6. She will be eligible to vote then, so she took advantage of the recent sign-up session.
“I wanted to register, since I know that voting is important for all people in the United States,” Broughton said. “I’m looking forward to the next election.”
Senior Ken Bacon, 18, said he feels that people don’t have complete control over who is elected, but, “It’s still a good idea to express our opinions by voting.”
Classmate Charles Williams, 18, agreed.
“If you don’t vote, you won’t get heard,” he said.
Hammond High School assistant principal Christine Kibler-Wheeler was excited about the unique opportunity for her students.
“We informed all of our junior and senior advisory classes about voter registration and the requirements for participating,” she said. “The advisory teachers spoke to the students about the importance of becoming a registered voter and, at the conclusion of the discussion, students were urged to sign up to be registered.
“Approximately 45 of our students signed up to participate.”
Kibler-Wheeler added that the shared mission of Hammond High School and the community ensures that students of every need receive meaningful learning experiences that empower them to seize opportunities and thrive globally.
“We believe that offering our students the opportunity to become registered voters definitely serves as a means for helping us fulfill this shared mission,” she said. “We do hope to make this an annual event for our students.
“We know that real-world experiences such as these will make our students excited about their education and will mold them into responsible, productive citizens.”
Government teacher Carlton Glassford agreed.
”We have been discussing political issues and candidate profiles,” he said. “And (voter registration) ties in perfectly.”
The LWVCA volunteers at Hammond High were Schilling, Mary Jo Gorman, Mary Paquin, Alice Vockell, Anne Kutak, and Carolyn Jackson.