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National Election Had Profound Effect on Harpeth Hall Student Body

Upper+School+students+vote+in+a+mock+election+on+Election+Day+2016.+Image+courtesy+of+Harpeth+Hall.
Upper School students vote in a mock election on Election Day 2016. Image courtesy of Harpeth Hall.

Upper School students vote in a mock election on Election Day 2016. Image courtesy of Harpeth Hall.

Harpeth Hall

Harpeth Hall

Upper School students vote in a mock election on Election Day 2016. Image courtesy of Harpeth Hall.

Karin Scott, Lead Staff Writer

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A little over one year ago today, LogosNow sent out a survey to gauge our student body’s level of understanding with regards to our government. Although Harpeth Hall students consistently knew more about government than the average American, it was questionable whether that level was high enough for a top school like Harpeth Hall.

The results weren’t great, and showed a lack of political understanding in the student body. Perhaps it was because Harpeth Hall didn’t require any courses on basic government, and students typically waited until junior year to take American history. Regardless, it was clear that the school needed to implement changes in order to truly develop responsible citizens.

A year went by, a full, busy year that included one of the most historic presidential elections in our nation’s history. The political forum stretched from coast to coast and permeated homes to dominate dinner table discussions and family meetings. It seemed everyone, everywhere, was thrown deep into a national debate on policy and values.

So, LogosNow decided to test the effects of this historic election on our student body. In March of this year, we sent out the exact same survey from one year prior, poised to analyze the differences in scores. The survey asked about several aspects of government such as the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, and the two bodies of Congress.

As a whole, the Harpeth Hall student body’s performance increased in almost every category. The biggest improvements? Last year, only 27% of students could name Tennessee’s two U.S. senators. This year, that number jumped to 35%. 85% of students last year could name the three branches of the U.S. government, which increased to 93% this year. The biggest increase occurred when students were asked to name the U.S. Speaker of the House. Last year, 28% could correctly identify Paul Ryan as the Speaker. This year? 61% of students identified Paul Ryan.

The breakdown of results by class also shows noteworthy improvements.

The Class of 2019, current sophomores, improved in most categories. Last year, 71% knew the three branches of government and 74% could name the two bodies of Congress. Both numbers jumped this year, to 97% and 92% respectively. Previously, 13% could name Davidson County’s U.S. Representative and 19% could name Tennessee’s two U.S. senators. This year, those numbers increased to 25% and 28%.

The biggest improvements were made by the Class of 2018, the current juniors. With an increase in every single category, the Class of 2018 had the highest scores overall. Fifteen percent could name Tennessee’s two senators last year and sixteen percent could name Nashville’s U.S. representative. On the most recent survey, these numbers jumped to 47% and 37%. Last year, 89% could identify the three branches of government and the two bodies of Congress. This year, the Class of 2018 scored 95% in both categories. Take a look at the table below to see improvements made in every category:

Class of 2018 % Correct, 2016 % Correct, 2017
How many justices are on the Supreme Court? 64% 74%
What are the three branches of government? 89% 95%
What are the 2 bodies of Congress? 89% 95%
Who is the Commander in Chief? 84% 88%
Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? 89% 91%
Who are Tennessee’s two U.S. senators? 16% 47%
Who is the Speaker of the House? 24% 63%
Who is our Secretary of State? 21% 40%
Who is the U.S. Representative for Nashville’s district? 16% 37%
Who is the Vice President? 97% 100%


No doubt, the Class of 2018 made significant improvement over the course of last year, an improvement that could be attributed to the United States History course that all students take junior year as well as the recent national election. These results support the argument that when more classes concerning civics are available to students, the student body altogether becomes more prepared to be vital members of society.

Now, let’s look at the Class of 2017, the current seniors. Results from the senior class are always important because many students become eligible to vote in their senior year. The Class of 2017 improved in almost every category. Scores dropped when asked to name the author of the Declaration of Independence and when asked to name our Secretary of State (understandable considering we just confirmed a new Secretary of State). However, their scores saw major improvements in the other categories. For example, on last year’s survey, 72% knew how many justices were on the Supreme Court and 67% knew the president is the Commander in Chief. This year, the Class of 2017 scored 88% and 86%, respectively. Last year, 28% could name Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators and 35% could name the Speaker of the House. These numbers jumped to 41% and 80%.

Overall, Harpeth Hall’s student body has grown much more politically aware over the course of the last year. Most likely, the recent national election contributed significantly to the rise in political knowledge in our school, as students became determined to figure out the issues important to them and discuss their ideas openly with their peers.

However, the initiative to increase political awareness in this school should not end here. In fact, many steps remain for Harpeth Hall administration to prepare its students for political issues. One step the administration has taken is the creation of an AP United States Politics & Government course. This move shows the dedication that Harpeth Hall faculty have toward the education of their students as well as their ability to listen to the feedback of the student body.
The 2016 presidential election will go down in history as one of the biggest upsets in American history. Certainly, its impact was far-reaching, and Harpeth Hall is no exception as the political awareness of the student body has dramatically increased over the course of the past year.

Another follow-up article will be published shortly to give more details on the new AP U.S. Government & Politics course.

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National Election Had Profound Effect on Harpeth Hall Student Body