Every two years, many high school seniors get ready to vote for the first time. For most, this experience is surreal and something they have thought about doing for much of their young life – for others, it’s merely an obligation. Nevertheless, exercising one of America’s most important rights is another step towards becoming an adult, and big moment for high school students.
A commonly-held notion among first-time voters is that it will take a long time. With most citizens heading to vote, many people assume they will be stuck waiting in line for hours. However, the Providence Academy students who voted at their polling places found this notion to be unfounded. Casey Schmidt ‘19 went to vote on November 6, recalling that – unexpectedly – he was “in and out in a few minutes.” He learned that the process was actually quite simple, quick, and easy: there weren’t very many people there, and all he needed to do was talk to somebody then fill in a few bubbles.
Although it was a swift affair, some students found it to be a mind-boggling experience. Riley Schroeder ‘19 commented, “it felt weird voting when I still feel like a kid.” For children, voting is seen as something only for adults; it is hard for high schoolers to fully accept their new status as “grown ups” able to fully participate in the elections of America’s leaders. Voting for the first time can allow this reality to really hit home, making the experience a memory that many will treasure forever.
Only about half of high school seniors are 18 years old when the elections come around, and thus voting is a unique privilege. On account of this, it was not uncommon to see some students proudly displaying their “I Voted” sticker, showing that they are now an adult; the others will have to wait 2 more years for the next election cycle. Student opinion varies on the topic of the stickers as well. According to Schmidt, it’s just a sticker, and nothing else. He “put it on [his] friends dog” immediately after returning home from voting. Mr. Schmidt was content knowing that he had done his civic duty and felt no need to show it off.
Undoubtedly, voting is another major step for PA seniors as they progress to adulthood. For some it was the fulfillment of a childhood dream, while for others it was just the shading of a few bubbles. Though experiences varied, this privilege marks a point in each high schooler’s life where he or she is truly viewed as an adult for one of the first times.