In her free time, third-grader Carson Park enjoys playing with her two younger sisters, Legos and her American Girl Doll.
She also spends time outside Vance Elementary School reading non-fiction and, most recently, writing letters to politicians.
Most kids her age might stick to letters to their grandparents or Santa Claus, but 8-year-old Carson had another idea.
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After watching political ads one night with her parents, she noticed that the candidates were unhelpful and “not nice” to their opponents.
Nudged by her parents, she wrote and mailed a two-page letter to U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and her Republican opponent Thom Tillis.
“Dear, Mrs. Hagan and Mr. Tillis,” her letter reads. “I’ve been watching your ads on TV and have a few questions.”
She lists three questions that ask why the candidates are “saying mean things about each other” instead of helping citizens.
“Will you act like this after the Election?” she asks. “Seeing the ads on TV makes me sad and I don’t want to vote.”
Carson’s letter was in response to a character education program through the Wake County Public School Systems called the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program.
The program’s goal is to enable schools to create positive school environments and promote improvement in student behavior. It aims to reduce discipline referrals and suspensions.
Carson’s teacher, Dana Cooke, helped launch the program seven years ago. She said that the program helps spin classroom expectations and overall school environment to be positive.
Consequently, the program leads to excellence in academics.
Through the behavior program, Vance students learn the acronym PROWL – Practice empathy, Respect everyone and everything, Only make smart choices, Work responsibly and Love learning.
In her letter, Carson turned the slogan into a lesson she hopes the candidates will learn.
She hopes to receive a response from the candidates.
“I would like them to know that I think a lot of people might agree,” Carson said.
Her mom, Lacy Park, is proud of Carson and of Vance Elementary.
“We went to school today and everyone is talking about it,” she said. “Maybe this will help other students speak up.”