Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy honored for 100% voter registration among eligible students | VailDaily.com

Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy honored for 100% voter registration among eligible students

Colorado Secretary 0f State honors VSSA with Eliza Pickrell Routt Award

Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy was honored by the Colorado Secretary of State's office for registering 100% of eligible students to vote. From left are Henry Strauch, Emma Birtwhistle, Nick Ebner who organized the student voter registration drive, a representative of the Secretary of State's office, and VSSA teacher Eric Rippeth.
Special to the Daily

Nicholas Ebner decided his classmates’ voices should reach beyond their classrooms, so he convinced them to register to vote and now they do.

Ebner, a Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy senior, registered every eligible VSSA student to vote. That made VSSA the first Colorado school of the 2019-2020 school year to earn the Eliza Pickrell Routt Award from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

“Young people have the opportunity to help shape the future of our state and our country with their vote, no matter what political party they identify with, or the issue that inspires them most,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in the announcement.

To earn the award, schools must register at least 85% of its eligible students to vote … but why stop there, Ebner decided, when he could get them all.

“I’m passionate about politics and I was looking for something I could do in the community,” Ebner said.

He had volunteered to work on a couple of campaigns and decided to take it to the grassroots level.

“Voter registration seemed like something I could do,” Ebner said.

So he did. He signed up VSSA’s entire senior and junior classes.

“I was registering myself to vote and I saw you could also hand in peer voter registration forms. It encourages people to sign up to vote,” Ebner said.

‘Spirited’ political discourse

Eric Rippeth is a VSSA social studies teacher. His students spend lots of time in “spirited” discussions focusing on current events, especially local events, as well as the national and international political climate. There’s a lot to talk about currently, and passionate students argue all sides, Rippeth said.

The voter registration drive was Ebner’s idea for part of his senior project.

Ebner came to Rippeth with all the applications and forms from Colorado’s Secretary of State office to register students to vote. When he was finished, every single VSSA student eligible to vote was registered.

“I was inspired,” Rippeth said.

Colorado first First Lady, first female voter

The award, created in 2016, is named after Eliza Pickrell Routt, the first woman registered to vote in Colorado after Colorado passed women’s suffrage in 1893.

Routt was Colorado’s first First Lady. Her husband John Routt was Colorado’s first governor, elected in 1876, the year Colorado became a state.

As First Lady Pickrell Routt dedicated herself to equal rights for women and the passage of women’s suffrage, Routt helped Colorado become the second state to allow women to vote, the first by popular vote. Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote.

To honor her commitment to the passage of women’s suffrage, Routt was the first woman registered to vote in Colorado.

The Eliza Pickrell Routt Award was launched in 2016. By the end of the 2017-19 school year, 26 awards had been presented to 17 schools across Colorado.


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