NASHVILLE — Two Hamilton County high schools, Ivy Academy and the Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences, have earned gold level awards from the Tennessee secretary of state by registering 100% of eligible students ages 18 or older to vote.
Lookout Valley Middle/High School, meanwhile, earned a silver award by registering 85% of eligible students there to vote.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett congratulated all three schools on their achievement this week.
"I appreciate the Hamilton County Election Commission and the students, faculty and staff of each of these schools joining with us in our efforts to increase voter registration through participating in the Anne Dallas Dudley Award program," Hargett said in a news release.
Hargett's office launched the award program for the 2021-22 school year to promote voter registration among Tennessee high school students as part of his civics engagement encouraging students to become actively engaged citizens.
High schools that register 100% of eligible students earn the gold level award, while schools registering at least 85% eligible students earn the silver level award.
Hamilton County Administrator of Elections Scott Allen offered his congratulations to Ivy Academy, a public charter school, and the Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences.
"This award shows your dedication to ensuring that Hamilton County students are prepared and motivated to contribute to our democracy," Allen stated in the news release. "I want to thank the faculty, staff and students at these schools, as well as our Silver Award winner, Lookout Valley Middle/High, for their hard work in providing that their student's voices are heard."
All Tennessee public, charter or private schools as well as a home school association can participate in the program. This year, 17 Tennessee high schools in 11 counties earned the Anne Dallas Dudley Gold Level Award. Eighteen high schools representing 13 counties earned the Anne Dallas Dudley Silver Level Award.
The award is named after suffragist Anne Dallas Dudley, of Nashville, who helped lead the successful effort to get the Tennessee General Assembly to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women across the nation the right to vote. The Tennessee General Assembly's Aug. 18, 1920, vote was the 36th and final state vote required to enshrine that right in the Constitution.
Rep. Harry Burn, an Athens Republican, cast the tie-breaking vote in the legislature.
"Ivy Academy is honored to receive this award in the legacy of Anne Dallas Dudley," Ivy Academy Chattanooga High School Principal Rachel Swafford-Cook said in the release. "All of our students who will be eligible to vote in the next election are registered voters, a crucial step into civic-minded adulthood."
Swafford-Cook cited the "tireless dedication" of the public charter school's government and civics teacher, Elizabeth Arce-Spollen, in helping students register and in other ways and for having "woven" civics education into students' academic lives.
"Most of all, we congratulate our students for completing this important milestone," Swafford-Cook added.
"At Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences, our goal is to teach students to be active citizens in this world and to read and to understand issues, to be willing to listen to other's thoughts and experiences, and then to be able to communicate well orally and in writing," Executive Principal Jim D. Boles said in the release.
Boles said the school feels honored to receive the award, adding the effort also benefits students.
"It provided the perfect opportunity for our students to learn the importance of registering to vote and engaging in the practice of decision making by going to vote on Election Day," Boles said. "We hope to change the world one graduating class at a time."
For more information about the Anne Dallas Dudley Award and other civic engagement efforts from the Tennessee Department of State, visit sos.tn.gov/civics.
— Compiled by Andy Sher