Thirty Panther Valley juniors and seniors recently received a special opportunity Thursday when Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele made a guest appearance at the school.
Aichele, who has served as the Secretary of the Commonwealth since being appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011, taught the students about the importance of elections and having a voice in government.
Joseph Gunnels, principal of Panther Valley High School, introduced Aichele to the class and thanked her for visiting.
"I think that this is terrific," he said. "I'm glad they (Aichele's office) reached out and wanted to connect with the students. You don't get a cabinet member to come and visit a school often."
He noted that this class would be an excellent half-day seminar, where students could work together hand-in-hand with Aichele on more in-depth topics.
Aichele greeted the students and noted that she decided to visit schools throughout the state in the hopes of illustrating that voting is a very important privilege Americans have because they have the opportunity to express their needs and change what they don't like.
"I'm doing this because I believe in the children in Pennsylvania," she said. "Pennsylvania is a great state. It has resources, hardworking people, natural resources and culture."
She explained that she oversees all state elections, is in charge of licensing for professionals and corporations in Pennsylvania, and regulates and oversees the quality of professional services rendered in the state.
She then turned the focus onto the students and asked them what issues are important to them.
Students asked questions about the upcoming presidential election, education, funding, No Child Left Behind, health care, the PSSAs and other standardized tests, college and more.
Aichele then posed a question to the students, should a photo ID be required for voting.
A few said no because it takes away a person's rights.
Aichele asked why can a person vote without proper identification, but they must show a photo ID to purchase cold medicine at a store or send a package through some mail services.
She illustrated how the lack of photo identification left one election in Philadelphia turned upside down because a number of people voted using fictitious names and locations, just to stuff the ballot box.
In the end, the results were reversed and the winner of the race was the person who received the lower number of votes.
She also pointed out the importance of voting because a number of elections have been decided by one vote.
Aichele has been traveling around the state, visiting fourth grade classes and 12th grade classes, over the last few months.
On Thursday, in addition to Panther Valley, she visited Northern Lehigh High School and Middle Smithfield Elementary School.
During her elementary sessions, Aichele role plays with the students and has them create a bill, vote on it as if they were in the House and Senate, and sign it into law.
Aichele initially started her career as a fourth-grade teacher. She also served as a campaign treasurer for judges in Chester County, a member of a school board and the Chester County controller prior to her appointment.