CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Tuesday night’s election brought historic moments, from what was on the ballot, to the dollars that were poured into certain races.
However, for a small group of students with Philips Academy, Nov. 7 was historic for the role they got to play in the democratic process.
For the first time, four Philips Academy students got a chance to volunteer through assisting the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections team with the municipal races.
While the students have worked and learned through a partnership with the BOE before, this was their first time to see the election process play out on this scale.
“This promotes some awareness to people with disabilities in the workplace,” explained Philips Director Susie Crain.
The south Charlotte academy is described as a private nonprofit school for students in middle and high school with complex language, learning and/or cognitive disabilities.
It’s mission “is to provide our students with the academic, occupational and social skills needed to be self-reliant, confident and contributing members of their communities.”
Crain said the students’ involvement on election night will help open the door for more job opportunities for them in the future.
“These young adults add a lot to a workplace,” she said. “They’re often overlooked when it comes to hiring for jobs.”
In the lead up to Tuesday, students with the academy learned about the democratic process, and studied the history of elections in the United States.
They were then trained on their crucial role for election night, which included the preservation of bags and envelopes used at election offices for future races.
Evan Emmanuelli is one of the Philips students serving as a BOE intern. He spent the weeks before the election helping prepare equipment for voters and polling locations.
“When I’m carrying all of this … democracy in a duffle bag,” Evan said. “I was thinking, this is a lot of work, but it eventually pays out in the end.”
Mecklenburg election board employees described the groups involvement as being “invigorating.”
“We had all been here at 5 o’clock [Tuesday] morning, and were running on fumes,” Elections Director Michael Dickerson said. “Then, they come in here with so much passion and excitement that you can’t help but be impacted by it.”
While the possibilities of future opportunities with the Board of Elections and other county entities are endless, the excitement, according to Evan, for the next election has also begun to mount.
“Oh, I will be working the next elections,” he said.