PURCHASE LINE — Michael Ninosky has worn many hats during his 20 years as a teacher in the Purchase Line School District.
He’s been on coaching staffs for baseball, softball and football, as well as an instructor in social studies and history. After Alvin Green retired some years back, Ninosky was named chairman of the social studies department.
“Seven or eight years ago,” Ninosky said, he was given responsibility for teaching senior high schoolers. In that role, he took on an annual project: Getting those eligible to vote to register.
“We take voting seriously,” Ninosky said, after getting word that Purchase Line High School once again was honored by state officials for its success in getting eligible seniors to register.
He said those who do not register to vote cannot complain “if politicians aren’t willing to listen,”
Purchase Line received one of the Governor’s Civic Engagement Awards handed out in ceremonies in Pittsburgh. It was a Gold Level award, honoring Purchase Line for signing up more than 85 percent of those eligible.
“Forty-three out of forty-seven,” Ninosky said. “It is an honor,” but even without it, “we were doing it anyway. We’d still be doing our best to register our students.”
The GCEA program encourages eligible Pennsylvania high school students to participate in elections as voter registration drive organizers, voters and poll workers.
Students are eligible to register to vote if they are 18 years of age or will turn 18 on or before the date of the next primary, special, municipal or general election, which locally would be on May 21.
GCEA honors are presented by the Pennsylvania Departments of State and Education and the Governor’s Office, in collaboration with Inspire U.S., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that trains and assists students working to increase voter participation.
During the first GCEA presentation in December 2017, Purchase Line was one of three Pennsylvania schools to receive Gold Level awards.
“Let’s make sure that the class of 2019 and beyond meet or exceed that number,” then-acting Secretary of State Robert Torres told an assembly at Purchase Line High School.
The class of 2019 signed up 91.4 percent. Torres announced in December 2017 that the class of 2018 had signed up 92 percent of eligible students.
On Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Kiski Area also received a Gold Level award for this year.
Four Pittsburgh area schools — Albert Gallatin, Canon-McMillan, South Fayette and Trinity — received Silver Level awards for getting at least 65 percent of their students registered.
In all, in events in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Blue Bell, 23 schools were honored across Pennsylvania this year, up from 16 during the first GCEA presentations 17 months ago.
“We are pleased to see the GCEA program grow and attract more high schools,” current acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in Pittsburgh Tuesday. “These students deserve a lot of credit for their civic-mindedness.”