Grandview Girl Scout troops learn about voting to earn suffrage badge

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Grandview Heights Mayor Greta Kearns answers questions from Girl Scout Troop 6222 as they work to earn their suffrage badge on Election Day, Nov. 3.

One hundred years ago, women across the United States were able to vote for the first time after the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had guaranteed suffrage.

Students from two Grandview Heights-area Girl Scout troops spent a portion of Election Day, Nov. 3, interviewing Mayor Greta Kearns and voters to celebrate and better understand the history of Women's Suffrage and voting and to engage in the election and the political process.

The activity was part of the troops' effort to earn a Suffrage Centennial Badge, an achievement opportunity the Girl Scouts of the USA is offering this year to mark the centennial of women's suffrage.

Claire Bills, 9,with Girl Scout Troop 6222 listens as parent volunteer Jamie Lusher talks to the troop about what questions they could ask Mayor Greta Kearns as part of the troop's work to earn the suffrage badge on Election Day, Nov. 3.

"More importantly than earning the badge, it's important for our girls to understand that before 100 years ago, we weren't allowed to vote and that we have come so far since then," said Karen Smith, the leader of Grandview Troop 6222, which comprises third-grade students.

"It's a way to help the girls get excited about voting and being involved in the political process so that they can someday help move the needle forward in our community and our nation," Jamie Lusher said. Lusher, who is Grandview Heights Schools' chief academic officer, also volunteers as a Scout leader and helped coordinate the local Election Day activity.

Troop 6222 is participating in the badge activity with seventh-graders who are in Troop 1520, led by Lindsey Bills.

To earn the badge, Scouts have to learn about voting and suffrage and talk to elected people in the community about why voting is important to them, Lusher said.

The Grandview Scouts interviewed Kearns on Nov. 3 at Pierce Field and then visited the polling sites at Stevenson Elementary School and First Community Church to talk with voters, she said.

A third component requires Scouts to come up with a project to share their knowledge and show others why it's important to vote on an issue that is important to their community, Lusher said.

Younger grade levels might create a poster, a poem, a drawing or a bookmark about their chosen issue and voting, and older Scouts could design a webpage, create a vlog or make a mini-movie, she said.

"We're looking to come up with ideas that would allow the girls from the two troops and grade levels to work together on projects," Lusher said.

Both Smith and Lusher have daughters who are members of Troop 6222.

Avery Lusher, age 9, said it was "exciting and fun" to spend time at the polling sites and talk to people as they prepared to vote.

"I'm excited about being able to vote when I turn 18," she said.

Grace Smith, age 9, said she and other Scouts wondered why 18 is the age at which people may start voting.

"She (Jamie Lusher) told us about age 18 is when your brain is more developed and you can start making more mature decisions about things," she said.

The decisions about whom to vote for is yours to make and doesn't need to be anyone else's business, Grace said.

"That kind of surprised me that you could tell people who you voted for but that you don't have to," she said.

Learning about suffrage was an eye-opener, too, Grace said.

"We learned that it took a really long time for women to be able to vote," she said. 

When the Founding Fathers were creating a new nation in the 18th century, many founding mothers were prodding them about women's suffrage, Grace said.

"I thought the story of Mr. (John) Adams and Mrs. (Abagail) Adams was really interesting," she said.

When Mr. Adams was participating in the Continental Congress in 1776, his wife sent him a letter.

"She told him they shouldn't forget the women" as they fought for the nation's independence, Grace said.

She said she hadn't realized how long the struggle for suffrage had lasted.

That there even had to be a struggle and that many people worked hard for the right to vote makes her appreciate voting even more, she said.

She not only looks forward to voting when she turns 18, Avery said, but she also might want to run for political officer someday.

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