Canon-McMillan High School students registered 68% of their senior class to vote to earn the Silver Award at the Governors Civic Engagement Award Ceremony May 7 at the William Pitt Ballroom in the William Pitt Union at the University of Pittsburgh.
In addition, recent graduate Abby Daniels received an individual award for organizing a voter registration drive at the high school while also serving as a poll worker on Election Day.
Canon-McMillan’s Silver Award was its second in as many years.
Daniels and Abby Mele also received certificates for helping with voter registration drives throughout the school year.
“We absolutely wanted to maintain our status and win the award for the second straight year,” Daniels said. “I think this will give other classes something to strive for year after year.
“I think we educated a lot of people in the process about registering to vote. We helped and showed them that it is actually easier than they thought. That was a big take away for them.”
Daniels, who plans to attend American University, Washington, D.C., plans to major in political science.
“As we got closer to election day, we held voter drives and visited contemporary American democracy.”
She credited other students and said D.J. Gambridge, who teaches contemporary American democracy at Canon-McMillan, “orchestrated the whole effort.”
Gambridge said that students Angela Dittmar and Steve Hubsch also played important roles in the registration efforts.
Mele, who will be a senior in the fall, said getting involved in the effort was educational.
“I’m 17 years old and not of age to vote,” Mele said. “Doing something politically in the community was enlightening. I think it helped us realize that when we become 18, we can truly make a difference for future generations by coming together and voting.”
In all, six high schools in Southwestern Pennsylvania received Governor’s Civic Engagement Awards (GCEA)for registering to vote at least 65 percent of their eligible students.
The GCEA program, in its second year, encourages eligible Pennsylvania high school students to participate in elections as voter registration drive organizers, voters and poll workers. Students are eligible to register to vote if they are 18 years of age or will turn 18 on or before the date of the next primary, special, municipal or general election.
The award is presented by the Pennsylvania Departments of State and Education and the Governor’s Office.
Two high schools that registered 85 percent or more of their eligible students received Gold Level awards at the regional recognition event.
In addition to Canon-McMillan, four schools received Silver Level awards, including Albert Gallatin Area High School, Trinity High School and South Fayette High School.
This year 23 high schools around the state earned GCEA awards, out of 63 schools that participated. A total of 3,109 eligible students were registered through the program. Eight students won individual awards.
In the GCEA program’s first year, 16 high schools earned awards by registering 2,955 eligible students.