President Obama has asked Americans to do everything they can “to made sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.”

The President made the remark Jan. 12 during a public tribute held for the victims of the Jan. 8 mass shootings in Tucson.

And so The Explorer wanted to know, what do our children expect from their government? We visited a class at Coyote Trail Elementary School to find out.

It turns out students in Bill Ward’s fifth-grade class feel our national legislators are doing their best to make good choices and be good role models. However, they were surprised to learn how low voter turn-out is during local elections.

People today are not as involved and are not as knowledgeable about their government as early Americans, Ward told his class.

“We’re lucky if 52 percent of people vote for President,” he added. “If you don’t get involved, government breaks down.”

Fortunately, many Coyote Trail students are involved with the form of government that impacts them directly — their student council. Each class, grades one through six, elects one representative. Students then vote for their council officers, who meet monthly. The president and secretary are selected from sixth-grade students, while vice president and treasurer are elected from fifth-graders.

Student Council President Hyun-Jeong Jun sees government as an opportunity to set a good example.

“Little kids look up to us as role models; it makes me feel good to have a positive influence on them,” the sixth-grader said.

As such, the council makes sure it listens to the opinions of the student body. Kids let council members know if they like or dislike what the council is doing. This year’s council projects — which included a clothing drive for Haiti, canned food drives for the Marana Food Bank, and recycling — were met with enthusiastic responses from students.

“Student council is a way to introduce students to government, it’s a way to get their feet wet with leadership skills and learn about representing the student body,” said Coyote Trail Principal Dan Johnson.

The students take the decision-making process seriously, Johnson said.

“The kids ask intelligent questions about the validity of our expenditures. They are as engaged as their parents regarding our purchases,” Johnson noted.

Coyote Trail parents do a great job of exposing their children to government issues and giving them “teachable moments,” the principal added.

“The family engages them in conversations about government and so students come to school ready to learn,” he said.

As a result, students are meeting the four expectations necessary to earn the school’s PAW Award. They are: be safe, be responsible, be respectful and have fun. More than 500 compliment tickets were issued between mid-October and December to students meeting the PAW Award expectations.

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