LHS social studies department celebrates election day activities with help of grant


Sara Croghan

The upper E wing hallways were decorated with red, white and blue to celebrate Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

Daniel Bethke, Perspectives Editor

The LHS social studies department hosted a variety of festivities on Tuesday, Nov. 3, to celebrate Election Day and civic engagement.

While the social studies department conducts Election Day parties on every general and midterm election, this year’s festivities were especially eclectic, in part due to a grant geography teacher and department head Sarah Burkett received.

Burkett applied for the Chiesman Educational Grant, which is a grant program at USD dedicated to increasing civic engagement, voter turnout and electoral awareness, especially in schools. 

“We’re always looking for ways to encourage democracy and to increase engagement with students, especially as it pertains to life outside of LHS,” said Burkett. 

The $406 grant, which Burkett and the department were awarded upon application, funded the various activities conducted in each class, and each teacher did something a little bit different. All social studies classes held a mock election, voting for president, the U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota up for grabs in 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives seat for South Dakota, Amendment A, Amendment B and Initiated Measure 26. Beyond this common election and the red, white and blue hallway decorations, however, the activities were varied, whether it be watching political satire, enjoying cookies or something entirely different.

Burkett, for instance, hosted a trivia competition on U.S. political and electoral history. They then researched the various initiatives and amendments on the ballot this election cycle, as well as global political systems. U.S. history teacher Roxanne Harte, meanwhile, had her students look at 270toWin and play trivia on presidents and Constitutional Amendments.

“This is a chance to draw attention to not only our civic duty to vote, but the opportunity to make sure voices are heard in our country and our votes really do have an impact,” said Harte.

Harte’s, Burkett’s and indeed the department’s goal is for students to feel more comfortable engaging in political dialogue about issues, candidates and campaigns.

“I hope that, in a year that can be tense, [with] a lot of really impassioned opinions, we can have a positive dialogue within our classes about how these outcomes may affect us,” said Burkett. “I’m really excited to see… how it really can create informed citizens as they grow, graduate high school and move on.

In the mock election, former Vice President Biden, Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson won. Both Amendment A and B, as well as Initiated Measure 26, passed as well.