NEWS

Students register to vote just in time for primary

Jordan Wilson

Greg Christy wants his students to pick up a habit. He wants them to vote.

The principal at Metamora Township High School sat down with seniors on Monday morning and helped them fill out the necessary paperwork.

Christy said he expected more than 60 students to register to vote Monday, just in time to vote for the Feb. 5 Illinois primary. Today is the last day to register.

"Habits start young and they stick with you," said Christy, a deputy registrar. "Hopefully they’ll get in the voting habit."

For some in Kevin Hicks’ Contemporary Issues class at Metamora, it didn’t take much persuading.

"I’ve been 18 since March, so I’ve been waiting for this," said Katie Harker, who said she will support Hillary Clinton.

Hicks said, among other things, his Contemporary Issues class is a chance to introduce students to real politics. Real politics as in, you don’t always have to vote the same way your parents do. He said his main goal is to inform. He pays special attention not to champion one side of the race.

"If anything, it unlocks their curiosity," Hicks said.

Nate O’Neil appreciates the non-partisan crash course. Coming from a Republican family, he supports Rudy Giuliani but at least appreciates knowing there are other candidates out there.

"I usually get one view at home, but I get both sides here," he said.

One of the ways Hicks got students involved is through the Internet. He said the teenagers visited questionnaire Web sites that churned out a potential presidential candidate based on their responses to a set of questions.

"Nowadays kids are so techno-savvy," Christy said. "It’s easier than it used to be."

So not only did they register on Monday, but students already had a strong idea of which candidate was their favorite.

Abby Wyztic didn’t hesitate to rattle off Barack Obama as her candidate of choice.

"He gives really good speeches and overall he appeals to the youth crowd," she said. "The youth crowd could take it."

When Wyztic casts her vote, which she plans to do, she’ll have her school to thank. If Metamora didn’t make an effort to register students, Wyztic said she probably wouldn’t have signed up.

"If this (registration) didn’t happen, I would probably just forget about it," Wyztic said. "We’re seniors in high school. We have a lot to do. I wouldn’t know where to go."

Jordan Wilson can be reached at (309) 686-3251 or jwilson@pjstar.com.