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Viewpoint: Elections are an opportunity to teach students

With less than a month to go before Election Day, politics is at the center of many discussions at home and in offices across the nation. The political process is also a hot topic in classrooms around our school district. Teachers at all levels are taking advantage of the media coverage to teach students valuable lessons about democracy and our country's election process.

One of the Stillwater Area Public School District's goals for the school year is to prepare our learners to positively contribute to a global society. To meet that goal, we are working with our community to develop our students as responsible global citizens and leaders.

Some of those lessons happen in the classroom, but many others are taught outside school -- in living rooms and around kitchen tables. Parents, community members, and educators must all work together to demonstrate citizenship to our future leaders.

From elementary classrooms to our high school civics courses, students are learning about citizenship and democracy through a variety of classroom discussions and activities.

High school students are studying voter's guides, provided by the Minnesota League of Women Voters, and discussing the platforms and issues of candidates and political parties.

Kindergarten students are learning about our founding fathers and the formation of our democratic nation. Discussions are also taking place at every grade level in between.

Some of the most relevant and exciting lessons are happening at our junior highs, where students are experiencing democracy first hand by running campaigns and participating in political conventions.

Civics courses are providing real-life opportunities for students to discuss and debate real issues -- at both a school as well as national level. From Government Day at Stillwater Junior High to the week-long Elphadonk Convention at Oak-Land, students are gaining valuable insight into our democratic process.

Teaching our students to understand democracy is important. But it is even more urgent for them to understand their responsibility to be informed, involved and engaged as citizens of the future. Many of those lessons are best taught through example. We can all work together to promote citizenship by serving as positive examples to the younger generations.

From city and township elections, to school board, county, state and national races -- there are countless ways you can be involved. In the coming weeks there will be many opportunities to participate in candidate forums right here in our own communities.

Plan to attend one of these forums and bring your student along. Now is also a great chance to talk about the issues with your students and challenge them to think about their own political agendas and the issues they care most about.

Ryskoski is School District 834 superintendent and can be reached at