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Eighth-graders throw their own election party -- at school

November 6, 2012 |  7:31 pm

Electoral College maps colored red and blue lined the walls in the mutipurpose room at Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy, where an eighth-grade class held their voting party Tuesday.

Isabel Espino, 13, took a break from manning the "pin the tail on the elephant or donkey" booth and compared her predictions on the wall to NBC’s results broadcast on a large screen.

As recently as a few months ago, Isabel said she “didn't even know what the electoral college was." But after her government teacher, Emilio Solano, introduced the concept to the class, Isabel said "I became really interested in the whole process. Every vote counts. It's the power of the people."

PHOTOS: California voters head to polls

Isabel was one of about 50 eighth-graders who gathered at the Echo Park school Tuesday night to watch as the election unfolded. Some were joined by their parents, but it was a student-organized party that arose from a month of studying civics.  

The eighth-graders filled out makeshift ballots to be counted at the end of the night, and others posed at a photo booth in front of an American flag.

Students also joined a few teachers making a map of the United States on the floor with tape. Each state was marked with red or blue tape as the poll results trickled in.

VIDEO: L.A. voters discuss 2012 election

Cheers filled the partisan room when President Obama was named the winner of New Mexico, because as Isabel said, the president “is a minority and might know how we feel."

When Solano gave his students a work sheet with the candidates' positions and omitted Obama and Mitt Romney's names, Mary Gatchalian, 13, expressed her surprise at who she chose.

"I couldn't believe it," she said when she realized she agreed with some of Romney's views.

Solano said that was the whole point.

"Half of these kids will be voting in four years," Solano said. "So much of their perspective is shaped by the media and their parents. I hope this opened their eyes to not be one-directional."


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-- Dalina Castellanos