Moffat County High School students elect to get involved |

Moffat County High School students elect to get involved

Students range from first-time voters to election judges

Andy Bockelman
From left, Moffat County High School students John T Peroulis, Keenan Hildebrandt, Wyatt Bellio, Christine Harris, Eddie Smercina and Mattie Jo Duzik gather outside Karen Chaney's AP Government classroom on Election Day. A number of MCHS voters were 18 and able to vote for the first time, while others served as election judges.
Andy Bockelman

The first experience casting a real ballot is one that sets the tone for many Americans as they get involved in politics, and regardless of the outcome of the biggest Tuesday of 2016, the young adults of Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School will be sure to remember it. will be sure to remember it.

Moffat County High School will be sure to remember it.

MCHS students got a taste of national democracy as those 18 and older were able to vote for the first time.

Rock the vote

Jacinda Newkirk made certain her ballot made it to the election office well in advance. The carefully marked piece of paper represented a great deal of effort put into selecting the candidates and issues that will shape the nation the way she believes best.

Newkirk said she wanted to make her first election matter.

“You need to know more about the nominees before you make a decision rather than looking at the media, and if you actually do research, it’s easier to make a decision,” she said.

Newkirk also served as an election judge, aiding at the Moffat County Election Office last week. She said she was pleased to see the amount of people taking advantage of early voting and the mail-in ballot option.

“When I was there, we counted 2,000 ballots,” she said. “They said it was way more than they usually get.”

Observing the process for now

Sarye Morgan arrived at the Moffat County Courthouse at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday to assist in the setup for incoming voters.

Though none of those ballots will have her name on it — her 18th birthday mere days after the election — she is still proud to be part of the process.

“I like just watching and seeing how it works, so I know how it works when I am able to vote,” she said.

Like Morgan, fellow Election Day aide Pearl Wyman is still a hair too young to vote though old enough to appreciate the magnitude of what the day means.

“I’m just really interested in the whole democratic process and how our country runs,” she said. “I’m thinking of majoring in international relations or political science. It’s been a controversial election, and that’s gotten me fired up and excited about it.”

Also 17, John T Peroulis may not be able to vote, but he’s been keeping a close eye on the presidential race nonetheless.

“It’s gonna be a close one, that’s for sure,” he said.

An informed vote is a worthwhile vote

On Election Day, the members of Karen Chaney’s AP Government classroom were abuzz with the impending results after spending weeks discussing the big day.

Christine Harris credited the course with helping her gain a better insight into certain parts of the ballot during her first time voting.

“The wording on it was kind of hard to understand, and if I didn’t take this class, it would have been impossible,” she said.

Wyatt Bellio said he has learned that involvement and education are crucial to picking leaders and legislators, even if major choices leave something to be desired.

“I hope to get candidates of a different caliber,” he said of future voting.

Chaney’s project for students Tuesday involved studying trends and polls and predicting the outcome of electoral votes with national maps marked with Republican red and Democrat blue, all put together on iPads.

Some student forecasts tend to lean strongly one way or another, but pupils still take it seriously, Chaney said.

“There are some strong opinions, but overall we’ve managed to be civil about it,” she said.

Eddie Smercina said that there is a bigger picture in democracy that can be forgotten.

“It’s about voting for policies instead of emotions,” he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

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