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South Hill Elementary Students Publish Book on Voting Vanguards

Last school year, South Hill educator Jake Chernikoff engaged his third-grade class in an anti-marginalization case study about voting. The students studied the history of voting rights in the United States and explored questions around why the right to vote matters, who have fought for their own and others' right to vote, and how to stand up for the rights of those whose voices aren't counted or recognized.

For their final project, Chernikoff's class worked with a guest author and a guest illustrator to create a book on "voting vanguards" - those who struggled so that others could have a voice through voting. Their creation, titled Our Vote is Our Voice, is now a professionally published book, which will be sold at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca. All proceeds will go toward purchasing more copies to be given away - a request of the students. Additionally, every ICSD elementary school is receiving five copies for their libraries and classrooms.

Our Vote is Our Voice demonstrates not only the students' knowledge of the history of voting in the United States and the importance of civic engagement (and civil disobedience) but also their ability to do biographical research and conduct informational writing. And impressively, the students created their book together while working remotely during our school closure.

"So we did it, and we did it well," wrote Chernikoff. "Every day for a series of weeks in May and June, students signed on to meet as a class, to do their math and spelling, their keyboarding, cursive and reading, but also to create a book. They researched, interviewed, took notes, wrote, revised, edited, conferenced in teams, illustrated and fueled this project with their joy and ambition. With their faces and voices all lined up on our computer screens, they published a book. They published a great book, and an important book..."

On April 28, 2021, the New York State School Boards Association presented the ICSD with a Champions of Change for Kids banner in recognition of Mr. Chernikoff and his students.

View the presentation (starting at 30:27) and Mr. Chernikoff's discussion of the project (starting at 40:58) here:


The creation of Our Vote is Our Voice would not have been possible without generous grant funding from the Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI).