<p><strong>Lawton Elementary School teacher Peter Hubbard (standing) advises Eli Wichert (from left), Stefan Todoran and Ryan Hablewitz as they fine-tune their two presentations on PACs/super PACs and the state auditor&rsquo;s race.</strong></p>
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Lawton Elementary School teacher Peter Hubbard (standing) advises Eli Wichert (from left), Stefan Todoran and Ryan Hablewitz as they fine-tune their two presentations on PACs/super PACs and the state auditor’s race.

Lawton Elementary School fourth- and fifth-grade students are at the keyboards working to polish PowerPoint presentations on the election process for parents and guests who attended their special event on Thursday, Nov. 1.

The program is led by award-winning teacher and 26-year veteran of the classroom, Peter Hubbard. He works on the project in conjunction with the Magnolia/Queen Anne District Council, providing special help from the 36th District Republican/Democrat members and the Magnolia Historical Society. The district council hopes that such work will get PTAs interested in participating in the district-council process.

Students, working in teams, developed information on the state and national races, as well as the initiatives and referendum facing voters. Guided by the state and county Voter’s Pamphlet, the students probe the Internet as they attempt to build factual presentations or represent both sides of an issue.

Topics covered included a look at a candidate’s life on the campaign trail; super PACs and PACs; both of the major political parties, as well as third parties; and the individual races and issues on the ballot. There was a mock election the night of the event, with audience participation.

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Larry Phillips and candidates Gael Tarleton, for 36th District representative, James Watkins, for state auditor, and Ron Bemis, for U.S. Congress, attended.


Learning curves

Students said they enjoyed learning how to do PowerPoint presentations and conquering many aspects of that technology. Many liked learning how to the search for information on their topics, but some found it difficult to judge the quality of the data found on the Web. 

All learned more about politics and our system of government, such as the team developing a presentation on third parties. One fifth-grader said, “I never thought we’d find so many.”

Many of the teams worked the computers and software like seasoned professionals. One team that was more familiar with computers than politics popped screens and graphics in and out of the presentation as they prepared their report on the state auditor’s race. They said they had done PowerPoint presentations on their own but never with a cohesive theme. 

Others, less experienced, found the learning curve a bit more difficult but seemed excited to rise to the challenge. 

The presentations are filled with information, great images, fun facts and occasionally an editorial comment.

Hubbard said the project connects the students to the world outside of the classroom, a goal he believes is important in the education process. 

He also explains to his students that the exercise teaches them to tackle a project with specific requirements and finish it on a deadline, just like they will do when finished with school and on a job.

Hubbard monitored the computer lab as the students worked, reviewing the presentations and offering suggestions when needed. Some of the teams struggled over the fine points of the wording or the technology, while others finished and began rehearsing presentations for the evening’s event. 

When asked what was most difficult about the project, one student said, “Stage fright.”

GLENN AVERY is a Magnolia/Queen Anne District Council member. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.