Wilson County students joined their peers across Tennessee in voting in the first statewide student mock election.
Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, would be the next president of the United States if Tennessee students were casting real ballots. A total of 165,968 students representing 479 schools from 90 of the state’s 95 counties participated.
Trump won with 88,208 or 53.1 percent of the vote. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was second with 56,935 or 34.3 percent of the vote. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson finished with 5 percent of the vote, followed by “Rocky” Roque De Le Fuente and Jill Stein, each with 2.3 percent. Alyson Kennedy and Mike Smith garnered 1.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
And Wilson County students basically mirrored the statewide results.
Gladeville Elementary School second, third and fifth graders picked Trump over Clinton 134-45 with no votes going to independent candidates. A total of 179 votes were cast.
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Legacy Family Academy home school students chose Trump overwhelmingly over the other candidates with 115 of the 167 votes cast. Johnson was second with 16, followed by Smith with 13, Clinton with nine, De La Fuente with eight, Kennedy with five and Stein with one.
Mt. Juliet Christian Academy also overwhelmingly picked Trump with 382 of the 463 votes cast. Clinton was second with 42.
Mt. Juliet High School had a closer margin, but it was Trump garnering 261 votes compared to Clinton with 111 of the 425 votes cast.
Rutland Elementary School students also picked Trump as their favorite over Clinton 480-380 among the 1,007 votes cast.
Southside Elementary School students picked Trump over Clinton 607-224, and all 831 of the total votes went to either candidate.
Watertown Middle School students picked Trump with 65 votes, followed by Johnson with 20 and Clinton in third with 13.
In the closest race among schools in Wilson County, Winfree Bryant Middle School students gave Trump the majority vote with 242, but Clinton trailed him by only 39 with 203 votes. Stein was third with 40, followed by Johnson with 31 of the 539 total votes cast.
“I’m thrilled that so many students and teachers from across our great state got behind this project with such passion,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett while announcing the results at Thurman Francis Arts Academy in Smyrna where the winner was decided by just four votes. “Hopefully giving civics such an important role in the classroom translates into engaged citizens who continue exercising their right to vote when they are old enough to vote in real elections.”
Students in preschool through high school from public and private schools, as well as home school associations in Tennessee, participated. Ballots let students choose between Clinton, Trump and all qualified independent presidential candidates, but schools conducted elections locally in different ways.
“We want our students to learn how the real world works. Almost weekly, representative government is a topic of discussion in our history classes,” said Linette McFarlin who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade social studies at Thurman Francis Arts Academy. “Voting is a privilege and an important responsibility of citizens of the United States. We want our students to know it is their civic duty.”
Students will also get the chance to enter an essay contest to encourage them to be actively engaged citizens. Essays topics will be about voting and length requirements vary by grade. Schools may submit two essays at each grade range. Winners from each range will receive a TNStars 529 College Savings Program scholarship worth $100, $250 or $500 in addition to a trip to the state capitol. The essay submission deadline is Friday.
The program also offers lesson plans created by Tennessee teachers. The goal is to offer an easy way for teachers to incorporate civic engagement and citizenship into their curriculum.
For more information on how students voted in the student mock election, essay contest or lesson plans, visit sos.tn.gov/civics.
Nationally, a recent mock presidential election held by Newsela with nearly 385,000 students involved found a much different result. Clinton won in a landslide 57 percent versus 32 percent for Trump.
According to the Newsela election results, Clinton took most swing states, but Trump maintained his hold on Ohio. Clinton also took some Republican strongholds such as Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. Younger students overwhelming picked Clinton while it was a much closer race with high school students.
In the Newsela election, Tennessee students favored Trump by 47 percent compared to Clinton’s 44 percent. Tennessee was one of 17 red states.
JARED FELKINS • UPDATED NOV 3, 2016 AT 11:00 AM