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A side of democracy

It started with a simple question from a student to his principal: How come there are no french fries on our lunch menu?

But like many questions that have tempted the minds of some of our greatest leaders, it took only one little question to create a big, and in this case delicious, change.

Nine-year-old Ryan Mullin, a fourth-grader at Shaker Road Elementary School, was perplexed that there were no french fries on the school's menu. So he asked Principal William Dollard why Shaker Road did not serve them.

I told Ryan, 'That's not my department,' Dollard said.

As Dollard explained, "In elementary school, it hasn't been an offering."

Next, Dollard joked with Mullin that he should create a petition to have french fries added to the menu.

But Mullin did not take Dollard's joke lightly.

The students at Shaker Road had been learning about democratic government and were able to take part in a mock presidential election, learning about the actual candidates and the process a voter goes through in an election. They had also learned about making decisions in a way that has everyone included and considers every person's individual opinion.

He drew up a petition that asked, simply, "Do you want to have french fries as a side dish?" Mullin said. He then passed the petition around to every student in the fourth grade, and, according to Dollard, had every last one of the 71 students in the fourth grade class participate.

Dollard did not even get a chance to see the petition until Mullin received a response from every single student in his grade, as he was determined to have everyone exercise their right to democracy. But not every student signed Mullin's petition.

"Three people didn't want to sign," said Mullin.

But, overall, Mullin was shocked by the results he received when asking his fellow classmates to sign his petition.

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