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Youth Leadership Initiative

Local, state and national elections are excellent opportunities to educate students on the democratic process and increase civic engagement. At Sleepy Hollow High School, students have been participating in a nationwide mock election for two decades. Executed by the University of Virginia Center for Politics as part of its Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI), the mock election is the largest secure, student-only, online mock election in the nation. The program offers each school the ability to tailor the ballot to each student’s home legislative district. YLI then puts that ballot into its program enabling students to cast their votes electronically.

While results of the national election remain uncertain, SHHS students have voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden to serve as the nation’s 46th President giving him 80% of their vote. President Trump received 13% of the vote with independents taking the remaining 7%. More broadly across NY State, students also voted overwhelmingly for former Vice President Joe Biden who received 61% of the vote while President Donald Trump received 31%. The remaining 8% went to third party candidates Jo Jorgensen and Howie Hawkins. Locally, the student vote for the U.S. House of Representatives went to Mondaire Jones with 83% of the vote. (Results for U.S. Senate are not available at this time.)

Social Studies Department Chair Ms. Jessica Hunsberger says that the mock election, along with the larger resources available through the YLI, provides a real-world opportunity to address contemporary issues with students and assign lessons that require research and critical thinking. “Each time our district participates in the student mock election, I am awed by the students’ interest and passion for the issues,” said Ms. Hunsberger. “I hear from so many of them that they can’t wait for their opportunity to cast their first ballot in an official election and I have no doubt that they have learned the importance of voting on all levels.”

To help students learn about the candidates, members of Rho Kappa, the National Social Studies Honor Society, created a Voter’s Guide with detailed information on each person on the ballot. This year’s ballot (see image) was designed by Rho Kappa members Maddie Ardanowski and Mikey Rosario.