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Lake Oswego student representatives brainstorm how to get peers involved in the upcoming board election

Liza Wadell and Mete Bakircioglu, the two student representatives on the Lake Oswego School Board, wanted to get their peers involved in local elections by changing the voting age from 18 to 16.

Wadell said it was an idea given to them, inadvertently, by board member John Wallin. When the two learned it would take an amendment to the Oregon Constitution to make that happen, they had to come up with other ideas.

Wadell and Bakircioglu now plan to host a forum that involves current and prospective board members, maybe even one in which the students can have a mock vote for their favorite candidates during this year's elections.

Wadell said they also want it to be educational. So it might include a panel discussion where students can ask questions about the election process and the ins-and-outs of the school board.

"This is really the chance to get that education right before you turn 18," Wadell said.

She said they want to create an opportunity that currently doesn't exist. Right now, when a student turns 18 and graduates, they often go off to college and become out of touch with what's going on politically in their hometown.

And students are interested, Wadell said. Since starting her role as student representative she has talked with many students who are tuned in to what's going on at the school board level.

She said she thinks distance learning, especially, has made students aware that what happens on the school board directly affects them.

She added that when students return to school in person again, they'd like to run voter registration booths as well.

Wadell brought their idea to the board at the Feb. 22 meeting. It was met with enthusiasm by the board members and suggestions on how to make it happen.

Board member Kristen Aird suggested contacting neighborhood associations and merging efforts, since their elections are coming up too.

Board Chair Sara Pocklington added that they also could partner with other student groups that have held forums in the past.

Wadell said logistics are still being nailed down but they are hopeful they'll be able to host an event during the school board elections this year.

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