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Piney Grove goes to polls
Event emphasizes Electoral College
Paul Murray, dressed as a minion from “Dispicable Me” is about to read ballot results Thursday during Piney Grove Middle School’s student forum convention. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Piney Grove Middle School held the national convention for the presidential election in its gymnasium Thursday.

Fortunately, there was no Democratic or Republican politicking during the event, just Skittles, Barbie dolls, minions and other creative themes.

For the fourth year, the school held its student forum convention, which divides eighth-graders into fun electoral colleges, such as the State of Old People and the State of Zombies.

Those colleges represent the voting population, just as in a national presidential election — only at Piney Grove’s convention, it’s the school’s president and vice president being chosen.

“It connects our school and it gets them involved. They really do care about who wins,” said Kristen Johnson, counselor who helped organize the event. “The candidates really do follow through on their platforms.”

Past presidents and vice presidents have met with school leadership and worked toward improving the school, according to Johnson. They’re not empty campaign promises, she said, as results have included a uniform for the school’s mascot, picnic tables for lunchtime and other valuable additions to campus.

This year’s winners were Maria Carmona, who will serve as the school’s president and her vice presidential running mate, Ashlyn DeCarlo. The runners-up were Abhinav Sehgal and Suchit Godala.

“Thanks to you all for believing in us and giving us your trust,” DeCarlo said.

Added Carmona about the campaign: “We worked hard ...and never gave up. Thank you for choosing us as leaders of your school.”

Before the results were announced, eighth-graders in the various electoral colleges got to show off their costumes and themes for the sixth- and seventh-graders, who watched the event from the gym’s bleachers.

Including the younger students in the election gets them excited for the election process, both in their school and possibly nationally. And because the candidates find out who won at the convention, it’s even more exciting, Johnson said. It also encourages good sportsmanship and accepting victory with grace.

During the convention, students also heard from guest speaker District 25 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon.

The Republican, who represents south Forsyth and some of north Fulton, told the students that voting and democracy are great, but they’re “not always perfect.”

“It’s important that we have not just the national government, but the states [too],” he said.

Democracy needs to be kept “closer to the people, which means we have things like the electoral college and a representative government.

“But democracy only works if people pay attention and vote for good people,” he said.