Guilford County Schools bus students to the polls during early voting

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Dozens of Guilford County high school students gathered at Oakview Recreation Center on Wednesday morning, all to cast their votes for the first time.

“It was nerve-wracking because it’s that feeling of, that one vote that can count, it just gets your nerves all worked up, but it was fun,” Kearns High School senior Christian Miller said.

After months of learning about the process behind voter registration, the district’s chief academic officer explained that students were given the option for a field experience to go vote.

“Anybody can go online and see what their ballot is going to look like, but it gave a real opportunity to talk about what different positions that are on the ballot do,” Whitney Oakley said.

Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson raised concerns about the trips at a Board of Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday night.

“I want everyone to have the opportunity to vote but I don’t want kids to be brainwashed in the classroom I would prefer their parents school them on certain things,” he said.

“Teachers are professionals and the standard calls for participation, and teachers know that,” Oakley said.

Branson said he was also worried about the cost of providing transportation.

“In a time of shortfall and downfall, and begging and pleading for all the monies that we’re looking to spend, I’m not sure that this is the best bang for our buck in money wisely spent,” he said.

District leaders did not provide the cost of transportation but said it would compare to any other field trip.

Oakley explained that providing the optional field experience helps students beyond the classroom.

“We know now more than ever we want our students to graduate ready to be citizens, and this is part of being a citizen,” she said.

FOX8 reached out to other districts to see if they offer similar trips. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools does not. Alamance-Burlington School System says students can leave classes to vote with parental permission, but they do not offer an organized trip.

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