Faces of the election: The student
CHAMPAIGN -- Wandjell Harvey-Robinson can't wait to get into the voting booth Tuesday.
The Centennial High senior is among the youngsters who will take advantage of a new law allowing 17-year-olds to vote as long as their 18th birthday arrives before the November election.
Harvey-Robinson is a Charger cheerleader, a mentor to younger students and a member of Centennial's Interact Club.
But being part of the electoral process may be her most important activity of all.
"Any election I can vote in," she said, "I plan to take part in."
Harvey-Robinson has been preparing for Tuesday by studying all the candidates on her ballot.
"And my Granny and I have been watching all the debates on television," she said.
What issues are most important to her in this primary election?
"The main one for me is ensuring financial help for people who want to go to college," she said. "College isn't free, and many people need help to be able to afford to go to college. I want to make sure the government has assistance available for those of us who dream about going to college."
A close second on her list is health care "because my Granny and other older people need it."
As a senior leader at Centennial, Harvey-Robinson believes it's important for student voices be heard at election time.
"We are the future," she said. "We are not going to be young forever. We are eventually going to grow up, and you don't want somebody who isn't aware of the really important things in life making decisions as they represent us in government.
"So many of my friends are not going to vote, and I don't understand why. Now we have the right to vote, and this is something that is going to impact our country."
Centennial Principal Greg Johnson believes learning how to vote is a vital part of a student's education.
"Up to this point, getting involved in the community is something a student did as part of a volunteer experience or being a part of an organization outside of school," Johnson said. "What's cool now is that the students are really voting.
"The kids know that a vote is more than just an academic experience. They are actually participating in society itself."