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More Than 200 Voters Register at Lyons Township High School

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune.  By Jane Michaels   Eleven student registrars helped more than 200 seniors at Lyons Township High School register to vote for the upcoming April 7 elections.

Stephanie Nelson, a volunteer with the La Grange Area League of Women Voters, said organizers hoped to top results from a record-setting drive in January 2014 at the high school. That effort marked the first time 17-year-olds could register to vote if they would turn 18 by the next election, which was Nov. 4.

"We are still counting, but we did not get as many because of the fact that our deadline for age was much tighter this time," Nelson said. "The kids had to be 18 by April 7."

Nelson estimated about 225 students registered and another 50 to 100 were referred to an online registration process. League volunteers registered about 25 students in the fall to vote in time for the Nov. 4 election.

In January 2014, the league registered 427 students, or about 33.8 percent of a possible 1,250 juniors and seniors, a little more than half of the north campus students in La Grange. The total set a state record for a one-day registration drive at a school.

Students underwent training Feb. 3 to become registrars and volunteered at tables before and after school, during lunch periods and sometimes during passing periods.

League and student volunteers made the process as quick and easy as possible during the hectic lunch periods when students have just 25 minutes to eat.

"It's free and it only takes two minutes," league volunteer Kathleen Graffam told students streaming into the cafeteria, with her clipboard in hand. "All you need is your ID and your license."

Other volunteers fanned out and talked with students at their lunch tables.

"We come to them. They only get 25 minutes," volunteer Mary Klonowski explained in between pitching voter registration to students.

LaGrange Park senior Janarrius Swykes said organizers did a good job of informing students about the opportunity.

"I got bombarded," Swykes said. "I need to vote sometime so I thought I would register."

Countryside senior Zachary Russo, who registered, said he realizes he will have the chance to elect School Board members who run the high school. But, Russo admitted he doesn't yet know much about the candidates.

"Before I vote, I will definitely do some research," he said. "It's nice knowing I'll have an impact on people making decisions."

For the school's newest voters and community members, the league is sponsoring a forum for two school board races, beginning at 7 p.m. March 19 in the South Campus Performing Arts Center, 4900 S. Willow Springs Road, Western Springs.

Audience members may submit questions to four candidates vying for three four-year terms on the Lyons Township High School District 204 Board. Jessica McLean of La Grange is unopposed in running for a two-year term.

Newcomer Anthony Przeklasa of Indian Head Park is challenging incumbents John Polacek of Indian Head Park, Phil Palmer of Western Springs and Barbara Rosinsky of La Grange.

In La Grange Elementary District 102, five candidates are seeking four four-year terms. Incumbents Joyce Fitch, elected in 2007, and Matthew Scotty, seeking his second term, are facing challenges from newcomers Jason Kowalczyk, Brian Anderson and Amanda Jandris.