Lamar County, Miss. (Lamar Times)-
“There are 141 school districts in the state and 380 schools and I came to this one,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann told students in Rosaline Terrell’s fifth-grade class at Hawkins Elementary on Tuesday.
Hosemann and members of his staff also visited Elesha Buckley’s fifth-grade class before heading to Hattiesburg High School to meet with junior and seniors.
Hosemann was in town to help launch new Promote the Vote (PTV) materials while encouraging students to talk to their parents about voting and to urge high school students to register to vote.
Many students didn’t know who Hosemann was, but they did know Brett Favre when Hosemann showed them a photo of a mural painted with University of Southern Mississippi-related items. He showed them photos that characterize different places across from the state – from the Mississippi Delta to the Gulf Coast.
“You don’t know the Secretary of State, but you do know Brett Favre. That’s relevant,” he said, as the classroom laughed.
PTV materials were introduced Tuesday with a new theme, partner and educational materials for teachers.
Hosemann talked to the students about this year’s program, which will include a mock election and art and essay contests. He also encouraged them to “Make a Difference in Mississippi” by getting involved in their communities and making them what they wanted them to be.
For the first time in PTV’s 10-year history, Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Education arm will partner with Hosemann’s office to encourage school, teacher and student participation.
“We are seeing historically low turnout at the ballot box, so it is more important than ever to teach our children about the importance of civic engagement and how every vote counts,” Hosemann said, noting that only 13 percent of Forrest County voters cast ballots in the last election. “Participating in PTV is a fun, manageable way for busy teachers to talk about our elections process in the classroom.”
The pinnacle PTV event is a mock election for both U.S. Senate races and the U.S. House race pertinent to each school’s district, which will be held between Oct. 1-26. A downloadable ballot will be available to participating schools on Oct. 1.
Once students vote for their candidates using the mock ballot, the school will tally and transmit their classroom or school vote totals. Results of the Promote the Vote mock election will be available in November.
Aside from the mock election, PTV offers art and essay contests, available for students in grades K-12 and 6-12, respectively. The art contest, called “Colors of My Community,” encourages entrants to pretend they are an artist commissioned to draw a mural on a building in their hometown representing the place and people. Famous Mississippi artists will judge the contest.
Hosemann encouraged students to “don’t limit yourself. Just dream how you think Hattiesburg should be and when you dream how things ought to be, you know what happens? Your dreams come true. So all you need to do is dream.”
He left each classroom with a “happy,” a copy of Mississippi’s Blue Book commemorating the 200th anniversary. He pointed out photos of Favre, as well as Hosemann’s dog duck hunting in the Delta.
“Work real hard,” he told the students. “And mind your teacher and your parents.
The essay contest, called “We Have Business to Do!,” calls on students to focus on the business economy in the local community by using the Secretary of State’s Y’all Business website, www.yallbusiness.sos.ms.gov.
Art and essay entries will be accepted by the Secretary of State’s Office until Dec. 7, 2018. Winners will receive an award from local banks and be eligible to participate in a ceremony in February 2019 at the Mississippi State Capitol, where they will be hosted by Hosemann and the governor and be carried to both the House and Senate floors.
For more about PTV, or to register to become a participating school or classroom, click here.