In the auditorium, children are practicing a song on stage, more are huddled by the glass doors staring outside as the rain pours down awaiting their carpool to pull up in line, children run up and down the halls excited that the school day is over while their parents hush them and hurry them toward the door. Today they aren’t the only ones using their school.
Tanglewood Elementary School served, again this year, as a polling place in this year’s midterm election on Tuesday. Citizens of the 109 strolled through the school’s front doors all day and lined up to vote while classes and after school activities continued as normal.
Melanie Hanna, a resident of the 109 and parent of a Tanglewood Elementary School kindergartner said that she thought they had a good program at the school for polling.
"They really have it down and run a very streamline program," she said. "It’s pretty easy in, easy out. As soon as you walk in the door it’s right there."
When asked about security concerns, Hanna said she didn’t have any because she felt that the school was very responsible in how it handles polling and the additional traffic on election day. She added that not only was she not concerned, she was supportive of using the school as a polling location.
"I like it because it’s a great opportunity for that conversation to happen [about the importance of voting] and for the kids to see the modeling of that behavior," Hanna said.
Kim Roberts, a resident of the 109 who lives on the 4800 block of Selkirk Drive in the 109, said that she remembers the polling on election day from her time as a student at Tanglewood Elementary School. Now a junior at Texas Christian University, Roberts attributes much of her civic responsibility to influences from her elementary school.
"My teachers just always emphasized that it’s part of being American. You get to vote and it’s a waste to not vote," she said.
Roberts said that some teachers would hold mock elections and even allow the students to use the official booths before they became crowded to show how voting works and emphasize the importance of it.
"It was a big deal and my teachers made a big deal about it, so since kindergarten it’s been engrained in me," she said. "You need to vote."
In this year’s election, Roberts voted early at TCU. She said that, to her, voting is an important part of being a citizen and something that she holds as a priority.
Roberts parents, who now vote at Fort Worth Country Day, were zoned to vote at Tanglewood Elementary School when Roberts was a student there.
"I remember seeing them and thinking ‘Oh! There’s my parents. They’re so cool,’" she said.
She said the the combination of seeing her parents there and listening to her teachers’ taught her about elections made her realize that someday she would be the registered voter who was there making a difference for her children that were elementary school students.
Hanna agreed that it was a positive thing to have the polling place in an elementary school and said she had voted there in the past.
As a resident of the area for 11 years, Hanna said she had always remembered Tanglewood Elementary School as being a polling place.
She said that although the polls presence in the school creates an opportunity for parents and teachers to converse with the children about elections and the importance of their civic duty to vote when they are older, her daughter wasn’t curious about it and didn’t really ask any questions.
"She’s a kindergartner. Those questions are probably more geared toward the third, fourth [and] fifth graders," she said.
But, as Roberts identifies, it’s never too early to start those discussions since she links her influence to vote to her elementary school years, and even kindergarten.
So tomorrow, the school day will return to normal and the children could possibly go on and forget what they saw, but for some – like Roberts – that image and influence could carry on for many years to come.