Voting machines used for GBMS elections

  • Seventh grade students show off their “I VOTED” stickers after participating in school elections casting ballots on the same election machines that regular voters use.

Guinyard-Butler Middle School holds annual elections for students to vote for the candidates of their choice to represent them for the current school year, but this year was different.

GBMS Principal Dr. Jessica Brabham-James and the Student Council Advisors wanted students to be involved in a “real life” voting experience that is not so far in their distant future. With the help of Naomi DeFreen, her staff, and the Voter’s Registration Board members, students were able to use the voting machines that are used for all elections in Barnwell County to cast their votes for the officers who will lead the 2017-2018 student body.

DeFrenn said election programmers created a database for the election. Two machines were set up for the “7th Grade Precinct” and two more for the “8th Grade Precinct”.

DeFrenn said the elections ran smoothly. “They (the students) have been so excited,” she said.

She also sees the value of the civics lesson. “Voting is a civic duty. It is one of our most basic rights. People in some countries can’t go out and vote due to fear. Ask any soldier – this is what they are fighting for.”

After a morning assembly for the student body to hear the 18 candidates’ speeches as to why each was the best choice, students were then taken by social studies classes to the seventh grade or eighth grade precinct to cast their vote for Student Council President, Student Council Vice President, and Student Council Secretary. Each precinct also selected a grade level president and secretary.

The students lined up, showed their school ID badge, and signed by their name before they made their way to a voting machine and cast votes for the new officers. Each student in the school voted. Mia Handberry, Student Council Co-Advisor, told a group of students that, “Some of you are doing something that your parents have never done. It is important for everyone to vote in the democratic process.”

“I Voted” stickers were given to the students and the students wore them proudly all day.

“Seeing the excitement as the students waited to cast their vote and hearing students in the hallways all throughout the day talking about the election and anticipating news of the winners was an added accomplishment to a successful election and voting experience,” said Melanie Corell, Student Council Advisor.

“Every candidate that campaigned and ran for office is a winner. It takes a lot of effort to stand before over four hundred of your peers, faculty and staff, and guests and make a campaign speech,” said Corell. She said students who run for office must have all A’s & B’s and a clean discipline record and maintain it throughout the current school year. Each candidate that ran for an office and was not elected will be invited to serve as a senator with our officers.

The GBMS 2017-2018 officers are:

• Student Council President – Presley Bell

• Student Council Vice President – Kayson Holden

• Student Council Secretary – Nia Washington

• Eighth Grade President – Favor Ford

• Eighth Grade Secretary – Mariah Worthy

• Seventh Grade President – Christian Smith

• Seventh Grade Secretary – Karrie Bolen

“Guinyard-Butler sends a huge ‘Thank You’ to Naomi DeFreen, her staff, and the Voter’s Registration Board Members for volunteering their time and allowing us this awesome, real life opportunity. Students gained a whole new perspective of what is involved in the voting process and how important it is to vote for the candidates of their choice. We are looking forward to a great new school year with our newly-elected officials in place. Thanks to all of you for making a difference in the lives of our students at GBMS,” said Corell.