Boys outpolled by girls promising bathroom overhaul

Whatever Americans decide in November, last week fifth- and sixth-grade voters in ICS's student government elections cast their lots with good oratory and grounded promises.

Whatever Americans decide in November, last week fifth- and sixth-grade voters in ICS's student government elections cast their lots with good oratory and grounded promises.

The election took place on the school's campus in Stone Mountain, Georgia, home to its highest two grades. The demographics there - half American-born kids, half refugees - are the same as at the school's younger campus, 20 minutes away by car. But the feel is quite different, much more like a middle school.

Students packed the cafeteria for the campaign addresses last week, says Mary Santiago, ICS's assistant princpal in charge of the Stone Mountain campus. All the candidates had fan clubs, but as each prepared to speak, a husch came over the crowd.

The candidate pool favored boys, many of whose speeches featured wild promises - more recess, more days off, no more uniforms! - that met with hoots and cheers of approval from the electorate.

But when the votes were tallied, their classmates had chosen three leaders who'd spoken compellingly and realistically about their visions for change. The margins were tight; the president won by three votes.

Santiago was impressed. "I think they made three very wise choices," she says.

The victors were three girls: President Rachel Wong, from China; Vice President Kaluko Yarkpei, from Liberia; and Secretary Michaela James, from the US.

High on their start-of-term agenda: A "beef box" for student complaints, fundraising for recess equipment, occasional dances, and a girls' bathroom overhaul, complete with air fresheners, newly painted walls, and accent flowers.

We'll see if their nation fares as well.

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